Understanding Your Child's Eye Prescription | July 2015

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So your child just received an eye prescription and you’re now trying to understand the diagnosis. Even the prescription card is confusing. Don’t worry. We’ll help you see clearly. 

The Diagnoses

Your eye doctor might have used some unfamiliar phrases about your child’s vision that you don’t necessarily understand. Let’s break down some of the more common diagnoses!


Astigmatism occurs when there’s an irregular shape to the cornea, causing blurriness at any distance. Most people have some level of astigmatism and this is easily corrected in glasses or contacts. If severe enough, your eye doctor may suggest other forms of treatment. If you have any more questions about your child’s astigmatism, feel free to contact us at Mather Vision!


Nearsightedness, or myopia, is simply when the eyes can see close objects best, leaving faraway objects more blurry. This is very common and affects around 30% of the U.S. population. It usually first occurs in children and continues to develop until around age 20. Click here to read more about nearsightedness.


Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is the opposite of nearsightedness: faraway objects are clear while close objects remain blurry. This is often present at birth and many mild cases may not need any corrective treatments. Contacts or eyeglasses are easy ways to help farsighted eyes see close objects and corrective surgery is also an option for severe cases.


Commonly referred to as a “lazy eye,” amblyopia occurs when visual acuity is better in one eye than the other. The brain will only interpret the image from the stronger eye, resulting in the underdevelopment of the weaker eye. It’s usually noticed when one eye looks straight ahead while the other is looking in another direction.

There are many more conditions your child could be diagnosed with. If you have any more questions about your child’s diagnosis, contact your doctor here at Mather Vision. We are here to help you!


The Prescription Card

If you’re not familiar with an eye prescription card, the numbers and letters can seem like a foreign language. Let’s talk through each part of the card so you can better understand!

O.D. and O.S.

Usually on the left of the card and the numbers, there is a small O.D. with a O.S. under it. These are abbreviations for the latin terms oculus dexter and oculus sinister. Essentially O.D. is the right eye and O.S. is the left eye. 


Next comes the Sphere, or Spherical Error, column. This shows whether your child is either farsighted or nearsighted. This number, measured in diopters, is either positive or negative. A positive number means they are farsighted while a negative number means they are nearsighted. 


The Cylinder column measures the level of astigmatism. Here, the number is again measured in diopters, but the “+” and “-” don’t measure the severity. Simply, ophthalmologists use +’s and optometrists use -’s. Then, the higher the number, the more severe the astigmatism is.

0.00-1.00 - Mild Astigmatism

1.00-2.00 - Moderate Astigmatism

2.00-3.00 - Severe Astigmatism

3.00 and higher - Extreme Astigmatism 


Since astigmatism is when the cornea is misshapen like an oval, the oval can be oriented in any direction. The Axis column tells you what the angle of the astigmatism is. Demonstrated with a number of 0-180, this is measure in degrees. 


This line will only contain something if your child requires bifocals, meaning there are two different prescriptions for near vision and far vision. For example, if your child has a prescription of -5 and an Add of +2, the near vision prescription will be the sum: -3.00.

If you have more questions about your child’s prescription card, don’t be afraid to call one of the doctors here at Mather Vision! We are here to help you.

Early Treatment is Important!

Letting your child’s eye condition go undetected and untreated can be detrimental to their social and academic lives. Their brains quickly learn to accommodate for the vision problem, making it harder to correct once diagnosed.

Our doctors here at Mather Vision can give your child a comprehensive eye exam to help avoid and break down any barriers they might have from bad vision. Help your child reach their full potential and make an appointment today!


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Categories: Eye Exams, Eye Doctor | Tags: mather vision , child's eye diagnosis , farsightedness , nearsightedness , astigmatism | Comments: (0) | View Count: (764) | Return

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