What does cylinder mean in my eye prescription?

If you’ve ever looked at your eye prescription, you’ve likely noticed various numbers and abbreviations. One of these important components is the “cylinder” value. Understanding what it means is key to comprehending your prescription and ensuring you get the right corrective lenses.

Defining Cylinder in Your Eye Prescription:


In your eye prescription, the cylinder (CYL) value represents the degree of astigmatism correction you need. Astigmatism is a common refractive error that occurs when the cornea or the lens of the eye has an irregular shape, causing blurred or distorted vision at both near and far distances.

How Does Cylinder Affect Your Vision?

  1. Astigmatism Correction: The cyl value indicates the amount of lens power needed to correct the irregular curvature of your eye. It’s measured in diopters (D) and can be a positive or negative number.
  2. Axis: Along with the cyl value, your prescription will also specify an axis (usually expressed in degrees) that indicates the orientation of the astigmatism correction. This ensures that the corrective lens is aligned correctly to address the astigmatism in your eye.

Understanding the Cylinder Values:

  • Negative Cylinder: If your prescription has a minus (-) sign in the cylinder value, it means you have “with-the-rule” astigmatism. This typically indicates that your eye is steeper in one meridian than the other, and the corrective lens compensates for this.
  • Positive Cylinder: A plus (+) sign in the cylinder value signifies “against-the-rule” astigmatism, where your eye is flatter in one meridian. The positive cylinder corrects this flattening to provide clear vision.

Example of a Cylinder Value: Let’s say your prescription reads: -1.25 -1.00 x 90. In this case:

  • The first number (-1.25) represents the spherical power for nearsightedness or farsightedness.
  • The second number (-1.00) is the cylinder value, indicating the degree of astigmatism correction.
  • The “x 90” denotes the axis, specifying the orientation at which the astigmatism correction should be applied.

Getting the Right Lenses:

Understanding your cyl value is crucial for selecting the right eyeglass lenses or contact lenses. It ensures that the corrective optics match the unique curvature of your eye. Incorrect cyl correction can lead to discomfort and compromised vision quality.

In summary, the cylinder value in your eye prescription is a critical component for addressing astigmatism. Whether you have with-the-rule or against-the-rule astigmatism, the cylinder value, along with the axis, guides eye care professionals in providing you with the precise corrective lenses you need for clear, crisp vision. Consulting with your eye doctor or optometrist is essential to interpreting your prescription correctly and obtaining the most suitable eyewear.


Enquire To Buy