Here, owner and Optometrist Davina talks about the workplace eye test. Do you need one? What does the law say about eye tests for work? Does my employer have to pay for my eye test or glasses?
Doing admin in an office? Use machinery in a factory? Or out and about on the road doing deliveries or getting to client meetings? Whatever your work role, we all rely on our eyes, day in, day out.
There are simple solutions to rectifying bad vision. There are some fantastic designer glasses on the market now. Add to that state-of-the-art lens technology that Ruth and Helen can advise you on. There are even special filters and lenses that make the best glasses for screen use.
If spectacles aren’t your thing, contact lenses are more comfortable than ever. You can choose from dailies, weeklies, monthlies or specialist ones like our multi-focal contact lenses.
We’re often asked about needing an eye exam for work and whether your employer should be paying for it. Here’s my quick guide to where you stand:
What does the law say about employers paying for eye exams?
If your job involves working with computers, VDUs (Visual Display Units) or DSE (Display Screen Equipment) then your employer is obliged to comply with the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992.
That all sounds a bit wordy, but basically, it means that if you regularly use display screen equipment as a part of your day-to-day work, then you are labelled as a DSE user. The guidelines say that regularly is: ‘daily, for continuous periods of an hour or more’.
A DSE doesn’t just cover computer and laptop screens – it includes any kind of display screen, such as those used in manufacturing or in retail environments. As a high or medium-level DSE user, you have the right to request an eye exam from your employer. If you’re a low-level user then it’s at your company’s discretion, so it’s always worth asking.
If it turns out that you need spectacles, government guidelines say that if you’re a high or medium level user and need glasses to work, your employer should make a reasonable contribution to your glasses.
This will depend on your vision, when you need to use your glasses and your employer. We normally say that if you can take your glasses off at the end of a work day and leave them on your desk, then your glasses are predominantly for computer use and your employer should contribute. It’s always a good idea to check with your employer if you have an allowance and what the protocol is for claiming a contribution for your glasses.
If you need your glasses to drive home, or when you get home, then your glasses are not predominantly for computer use and your employer would not need to contribute.
Office Workers Eye Health
If you come along to have a workplace eye test, but don’t need spectacles, there are a few things you can do during the day to combat eye strain at work.
Adjust Your Desk
- Make sure your screen doesn’t have a glare or any bright reflections. Adjust curtains and blinds if need be, to prevent intrusive light creeping onto your screen.
- Adjusting your brightness and contrast can really help eye strain and fatigue. Adjust it to suit the lighting in the room
- Individual characters need to be sharp and in focus. If they flicker or move around, your equipment will need checking.
- Clean, clean, clean your screen – it’ll be easier to see, without that layer of dust!
- Choose a text size that’s easy to read when sitting in your normal working position.
- Avoid clashing colours – like red text on a blue screen and vice versa.
Change Your Position and Your Activity
- Look into the distance every so often.
- Use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Don’t forget to blink. It sounds silly, but sometimes when we’re staring at a screen we forget.
Eye Test for Professional Drivers
To drive legally, you must be able to read a car number plate from 20 metres. It doesn’t matter if you need to wear spectacles or contact lenses to do this, but if you need an aid then you need to make sure that you wear it every time you drive. If you don’t, you’re breaking the law.
There are a few other things in the Government guidelines, like an adequate field of vision, that we can test during an eye examination.
Eye Exam for Lorry Drivers and Bus Drivers
The standards of vision for driving are higher if you drive a lorry or a bus.
This includes a higher visual acuity and a specific measure on your horizontal visual field. If you drive a lorry or a bus, let us know when you come for your workplace eye test and we can make sure that you are driving legally.
For more information on workplace eye tests, or about company eye test law, call us on 01332 291010 to book an appointment.
If you’re a business owner and you’re looking for an optician for your employee’s eye exams, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.