How to Fill an Eyeglass Prescription in 2023: A Step by Step Guide for Optimal Vision Correction

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how to fill eyeglass prescription

What information is typically included in an eyeglass prescription?

An eyeglass prescription typically includes several pieces of information that are necessary for accurately filling the prescription. These include:

Sphere (SPH)

The sphere measurement indicates the amount of lens power needed to correct nearsightedness (-) or farsightedness (+). A negative number indicates nearsightedness, while a positive number indicates farsightedness.

Cylinder (CYL)

The cylinder measurement indicates the lens power needed to correct astigmatism. It is represented by a positive or negative number and may also include an axis measurement.


The axis measurement, if present, indicates the orientation of the astigmatism correction. It is measured in degrees from 1 to 180.

Addition (ADD)

The addition measurement is used for bifocal or progressive lenses and indicates the additional lens power required for close-up vision.

Pupillary Distance (PD)

The pupillary distance is the distance between your pupils and is necessary for accurately aligning your lenses with your eyes. It is usually measured in millimeters and can be obtained during an eye exam or by using an online tool.


  • Sphere (SPH)
  • Cylinder (CYL)
  • Axis
  • Addition (ADD)
  • Pupillary Distance (PD)

How often should I have my eyes examined to get a new prescription?

It is recommended to have your eyes examined by an optometrist or ophthalmologist at least once every two years, or more frequently if you have certain eye conditions or risk factors. Regular eye exams are important because your vision can change over time, and an updated prescription will ensure that you are seeing clearly and comfortably. During the eye exam, the doctor will assess your visual acuity, check for any underlying eye diseases or conditions, and determine if a new prescription is needed.

If you experience sudden changes in your vision, such as blurry vision, difficulty focusing, or frequent headaches, it is important to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible. These symptoms may indicate a need for a new prescription or could be a sign of an underlying eye health issue.

Factors that may require more frequent eye exams include:

  • Age-related changes in vision
  • Family history of eye diseases
  • Existing eye conditions such as astigmatism or glaucoma
  • Systemic health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Occupational hazards that strain the eyes (e.g., prolonged computer use)

Taking care of your eyes between exams:

  • Wear protective eyewear when engaging in activities that could cause injury to the eyes.
  • Frequent breaks during extended periods of screen time to reduce eye strain.
  • Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables to support overall eye health.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, as they can contribute to certain eye conditions.
  • Follow proper contact lens hygiene if you wear them.

Can I use my old eyeglass prescription to order new glasses?

Using an old eyeglass prescription to order new glasses is not recommended. Eyeglass prescriptions are typically valid for a specific period, usually one to two years, depending on the country and regulations. The reason for this expiration is that your vision can change over time, and using an outdated prescription may result in blurry or uncomfortable vision.

To ensure optimal visual clarity and comfort, it is best to have a current prescription when ordering new glasses. Schedule an eye exam with your optometrist or ophthalmologist to obtain an updated prescription. During the exam, the doctor will assess your visual acuity, check for any changes in your eye health, and determine the most accurate prescription for your eyes.

Keep in mind that even if you feel that your vision has not changed significantly since your last exam, it is still important to have regular check-ups as certain eye conditions may not present noticeable symptoms until they have progressed. Additionally, updating your prescription regularly allows for early detection of any underlying eye health issues.

What do the numbers on an eyeglass prescription mean?

An eyeglass prescription typically includes several numbers and abbreviations that indicate the specific vision correction needed for each eye. The main numbers on a prescription are the sphere (SPH), cylinder (CYL), and axis. The sphere indicates the amount of nearsightedness or farsightedness, with negative numbers indicating nearsightedness and positive numbers indicating farsightedness. The cylinder and axis values are used to correct astigmatism, which is when the cornea is irregularly shaped.

In addition to these numbers, an eyeglass prescription may also include a pupillary distance (PD) measurement, which is the distance between your pupils. This measurement helps ensure that your lenses are properly centered in your frames for optimal vision correction.

Are there any specific measurements or tests required to fill an eyeglass prescription accurately?

To accurately fill an eyeglass prescription, certain measurements and tests are necessary. One important measurement is pupillary distance (PD), which can be obtained through a simple test conducted by an optician or eye doctor. This measurement ensures that your lenses are positioned correctly in relation to your eyes.

Another crucial measurement is the segment height for progressive or bifocal prescriptions. This measurement determines where the reading portion of the lens should be placed in relation to your eyes for optimal vision correction at different distances.

In addition to these measurements, it’s important to have a comprehensive eye exam to determine the precise prescription needed for your eyes. This exam may include tests such as visual acuity testing, refraction testing, and evaluation of eye health.

How do I choose the right frame style for my prescription lenses?

Choosing the right frame style for your prescription lenses involves considering both practical and aesthetic factors. Firstly, you should ensure that the frame is compatible with your prescription. For example, if you have a strong prescription, you may need to choose a smaller frame to avoid thick lenses.

Additionally, consider your face shape when selecting a frame style. Different frames can complement or enhance certain facial features. For example, round frames can soften angular features, while rectangular frames can add structure to round faces.

Lastly, consider your personal style and preferences. Frames come in various materials, colors, and designs, so choose one that aligns with your fashion sense and makes you feel confident.

Is it possible to fill an eyeglass prescription online, or should I visit a physical store?

Filling an eyeglass prescription online has become increasingly popular due to convenience and accessibility. Many reputable online retailers offer the option to enter your prescription details and order glasses from the comfort of your own home.

However, it’s important to note that filling an eyeglass prescription online may not be suitable for everyone. If you have complex vision needs or require specialized lens options (such as progressive lenses), it may be best to visit a physical store where trained professionals can provide personalized assistance and ensure accurate measurements.

If you do choose to fill your prescription online, make sure to research the retailer’s reputation and return policy before making a purchase.

Are there any special considerations for progressive or bifocal prescriptions when filling them?

Progressive and bifocal prescriptions require additional considerations when filling them. These prescriptions involve multiple focal points for different distances (near, intermediate, and far).

When filling a progressive or bifocal prescription, it’s crucial to provide accurate segment height measurements. The segment height determines where the reading portion of the lens is placed in relation to your eyes. Incorrect segment height can result in discomfort and suboptimal vision correction.

Additionally, it’s important to choose frames that have enough vertical height to accommodate the progressive or bifocal lens design. Frames with shallow lens openings may not provide sufficient space for the different focal points, leading to compromised vision quality.

Can I get my eyeglass prescription filled at any optical store, or should I go back to my eye doctor’s office?

You can typically get your eyeglass prescription filled at any optical store that offers prescription eyewear services. However, it’s recommended to consult with your eye doctor or optician before getting your prescription filled elsewhere.

Your eye doctor’s office is often the best place to start as they have access to your complete medical history and can provide personalized recommendations based on your specific needs. They can also ensure accurate measurements and help you choose the most suitable lenses and frames for your prescription.

If you decide to go to a different optical store, make sure they have qualified professionals who can accurately interpret and fill your prescription. It’s also important to inform them about any specific requirements or preferences you may have regarding lens materials, coatings, or frame styles.

What are some common mistakes people make when filling their eyeglass prescriptions, and how can I avoid them?

One common mistake people make when filling their eyeglass prescriptions is not providing accurate measurements. This includes measurements such as pupillary distance (PD) and segment height for progressive or bifocal prescriptions. To avoid this mistake, always ensure that these measurements are taken by a trained professional using precise techniques.

Another mistake is choosing frames that are not compatible with the prescription. For example, selecting oversized frames for a strong prescription can result in thick and heavy lenses. To avoid this, consult with an optician or eye doctor who can recommend frames that are suitable for your prescription.

Lastly, some people overlook the importance of lens materials and coatings. Different lens materials offer varying levels of durability, thickness, and weight. Additionally, coatings such as anti-reflective or scratch-resistant coatings can enhance visual clarity and protect the lenses. To avoid this mistake, discuss your lifestyle and preferences with a professional to determine the most appropriate lens options for your needs.

In conclusion, filling an eyeglass prescription involves understanding the various measurements and parameters provided by an eye care professional, selecting appropriate frames and lenses, and ensuring proper adjustments for optimal vision correction. By following these steps, individuals can confidently navigate the process of filling their eyeglass prescription and enjoy clear and comfortable vision.

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