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What to expect at your appointment

Your eye test and prescription can be confusing, especially if you’ve never worn glasses or contact lenses before. However, once you’re aware of what to expect during your appointment and have a basic understanding of your prescription, you’ll realise that an eye test is just a routine procedure that ultimately helps monitor your eye health and maintain your best vision possible.

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On arrival

When you first arrive to branch for your appointment, we will check that your contact details, such as address, phone number and email address are correct and up to date. We will also confirm whether or not you are eligible for NHS eye care as there may be services that you are entitled to use for free. Plus if you currently wear glasses, please bring your most recent pair along with you.


During the pre-screening process we will determine the best way we can help you and fast-track the rest of your appointment. As part of the process we will:

  • Assess your current pair of glasses for scratches or signs of damage
  • Use a Focimeter to check the prescription of your current pair of glasses
  • Use a non-contact Tonometer to check the pressure in your eyes
  • Use a Fields Screener to check the extent of your peripheral vision
  • Conduct a quick hearing screening if you are over 40 to see if you may benefit from a hearing health check

Eye test

All our eye tests are designed to check not only your prescription, but the health of your eyes and also to spot any possible eye conditions that may require further investigation. Depending on your age and family history, your optician may also carry out checks for conditions such as glaucoma and diabetes.

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Step One: Check if you are short or long sighted

To find out how short or long sighted you are, your optician will run a number of tests, including asking you to read letters and words, with the print becoming smaller and smaller. Your glasses prescription will be determined by how many of these letters you manage to read clearly, before needing the help of a corrective lens.

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Step Two: Check if one eye is stronger

They will also test whether one eye is stronger than the other and try a range of different powered lenses to see what correction, if any, you require.

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Step Three: Check the back of your eye

During your eye test, your optician will also examine the back of the eye to find out how healthy your eyes are and spot any potential problems. If you have any questions during your eye test, your optician will be happy to answer them.

If the eye test determines that you need glasses, you will receive a prescription which will be unique to you and your vision. The test will have determined whether you are long sighted (can see into the distance but not so well up close) or are short sighted (have trouble seeing things far away). If you are new to glasses and are visiting Scrivens for the first time, don’t hesitate to ask the optician for help with understanding your glasses prescription.

Once you have your prescription, you can pick from our range of frames and lenses and there will be time after your test to try on different pairs to see which feel best.

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Your eye prescription explained

The Sphere (Sph)
This indicates the power of the lens that is needed to correct your sight.
A minus power ( – ) is prescribed if you are short sighted
A positive power (+) is prescribed if you are long sighted

The strength of lens is indicated by the numerical value; lens power is given in 0.25 steps; the higher the value, the stronger the lens required.

The Cylinder (Cyl)
Cylinders or Cyls are prescribed to correct Astigmatism. Astigmatism relates to the shape of the front of the eyes, as the eye can be shaped like a rugby ball as opposed to spherical like a football; the rugby ball shape can cause vision to be distorted. Cylinders help to correct astigmatism by providing further power across one area of the lens.

The axis is linked to the cyl as it indicates its position. It enables the cylinder to be placed in the correct position when the lens is mounted into a frame.

Near vision add
The near vision add is an amount of power which, when added to the distance prescription, will provide clear vision whilst looking at something within an arm’s length range.

Intermediate add
The intermediate add is an amount of power which, when added to the distance prescription, will provide clear vision whilst looking at something mid-range – a computer screen, for example.

Prisms are prescribed to help the eye muscles and reduce the feeling of eye strain or double vision (if present). Prisms help the eyes to work together.

The base is the direction that the prism will be placed when the lens is being made.

An eye test isn’t something to be afraid of. Remember, if you’re struggling with your eyes, it not only restricts your vision but can also cause other problems, such as headaches. By getting the correct prescription, your eyes will no longer be under strain and you may find that you have a much better quality of life.

If you have any further questions when it comes to understanding your glasses prescription, understanding diseases of the eye or whether to choose glasses or contact lenses, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

If you have had an eye test and have been wearing your new lenses, but are still experiencing issues with your vision, headaches or dizziness, contact your local Scrivens branch