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Guide to Prescription Eyewear Abbreviations & Terms


The world of prescription eyewear is filled with abbreviations, terms and phrases that can seem like another language to someone who’s just received their glasses prescription from their ophthalmologist or optometrist.  DV, OU, OS…the list goes on. To better understand what your glasses prescription means for you and to prepare you for terms you’ll find while shopping for prescription glasses, we’ve created the following guide to prescription eyewear terms.

Prescription Abbreviations:

  1. DV – abbreviation for distance vision. This refers specifically to the part of your prescription to improve far vision. Examples
  2. NV – abbreviation for near vision (some prescriptions use ADD in place of NV). This refers specifically to the part of your prescription to improve near work.
  3. OD – abbreviation for oculus dexter. Oculus dexter is Latin for right eye
  4. OS – abbreviation for oculus sinister. Oculus sinister is Latin for left eye
  5. OU- abbreviation for oculi uterque. Oculi uterque is Latin for both eyes

Prescription Terms:

  1. Spherical Correction -  this refers to the amount of refractive power or lens power in the prescription to correct nearsightedness or farsightedness
  2. Cylindrical Correction – this refers to corrections for astigmatisms. Astigmatism is an error in the eye where vision is blurred due to inability to focus on an object. 
  3. Total Power – many brands use total power to represent the range of prescription strengths that they offer for their prescription lenses. Total power is the combination of spherical and cylindrical
  4. Axis – the eye is separated into two meridians that are referenced when it comes to cylinder power in a prescription.  The axis is the meridian that contains no added power to correct the astigmatism.
  5. Prism – this refers to amount of correction for issues with eye alignment, used to treat muscle imbalances. This is more rare and only seen in few prescriptions.
  6. Base – direction of the displacement referring to the prism