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Vocabulary for the Eye Doctor in English

Do you wear glasses or contact lenses? If so, then you probably need to go to the eye doctor every once in a while (from time to time). My vision (sight) is pretty bad, and the first time I went to the eye doctor in Germany, I definitely wished that I had had some vocabulary for the eye doctor! My first time getting my eyes checked in Germany was very stressful, since I didn’t know what to expect and was working in my second language.

This week, we want to save you some of the stress, so we’ve put together a list of vocabulary for the eye doctor in English. Hopefully this will help you out if you ever have to get your eyes checked in an English speaking country- or just talk about your eye doctor’s visit. Read on for some of the most common vocabulary for the eye doctor!


While you can always call an eye doctor an eye doctor, the proper term is optometrist. An optometrist is a doctor who works with eyes, and is able to check people’s vision, as well as (also) perform some types of surgery on them, if needed. When you go the optometrist, they will check your eyes to see if your vision has gotten better or worse since the last time you were there.

For example:

  • I can’t see as well as I used to. I should make an appointment with the optometrist to get my eyes checked. Maybe I need new glasses.
  • I’ve just moved here and need to find a new optometrist. Do you know any good eye doctors in the area?


When you go to the eye doctor, they can give you a prescription for new glasses or contact lenses. A prescription is an instruction from a doctor or medical practitioner for treatment. Doctors can prescribe medication to sick people, and optometrists can prescribe glasses and contact lenses to their patients (someone who goes to the doctor). The prescription will say exactly what kind of glasses you need to help you see better.

For example:

  • My glasses prescription hasn’t changed much since the last time I had my eyes checked. My vision has only gotten a little worse, but I’ll get new glasses anyway.
  • Instead of buying his glasses from the optometrist, he took his prescription to another store, where he could get his glasses a bit cheaper.

To have 20/20 vision

Do you have 20/20 vision? If you do, I’m jealous! If someone has 20/20 vision, they have normal vision, and probably don’t need this vocabulary for the eye doctor.  Someone with 20/20 vision can see something clearly from 20 feet away. This number changes depending on the quality of your vision. For example, someone with 20/100 vision has to be 20 feet from something to see it clearly, which a normal person can see clearly from 100 feet away.

For example:

  • He hasn’t had 20/20 vision since he was very young. He’s had to wear glasses since he was 8 years old!
  • Her brother has 20/20 vision, even though the rest of their family all wears glasses. It’s funny how that happens sometimes.

Near sighted/far sighted

Like I mentioned before, my vision is quite bad. This is because I have a funny thing with my eyes: one eye is near sighted, and the other is far sighted! If you’re near sighted, you can see things clearly that are close, but things that are far away are blurry (unclear, not in focus). The opposite is true if you’re far sighted: things far away are clear, but closer things are blurry. Most people are either completely near sighted or completely far sighted, but sometimes there are people, like me, who are a mix of both! Now you know why I definitely need this vocabulary for the eye doctor!

For example:

  • She is near sighted, so only needs to wear glasses when she’s looking at things that are far away. Her father is far sighted, and needs to wear glasses to see things that are close up.
  • – Are you near sighted or far sighted? – I’m near sighted, but my vision isn’t that bad. I don’t have to wear glasses that often.

Progressive lenses

One question we get all the time is about progressive lenses. So what exactly are progressive lenses? Progressive lenses, or multifocal lenses, have three different prescriptions in one pair of glasses. They have one prescription for close-up work, one to see in the middle distance, and one to see in the distance. Unlike bifocals (glasses with two prescriptions and a line in the glass to show which prescription is which), progressives have a seamless (no line) look. Most people who get progressive lenses are over (more than) 40 years old and are far sighted.

For example:

  • My mom got a prescription for progressive lenses and loves them! She always says how good they are.
  • Her dad was very happy when he got his progressive lenses. He was tired of carrying his reading glasses and regular glasses with him all the time.

Do you need to go to the eye doctor? What kind of glasses do you have? If you found this vocabulary for the eye doctor useful, let us know in the comments below!

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Check out these other popular blogs: Internet Vocabulary You Should KnowBar Vocabulary in English5 Podcasts to Listen to If You Want to Improve Your English, or this Pregnancy Vocabulary in English!

Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and needs to make an appointment with the optometrist to get a new prescription for her glasses.

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