Good eye health is so underappreciated in the business environment.
Can you believe that only one-third of employers provide eye care to all their employees?
This is even more surprising when 1 in 3 workers in the UK is in their 50s when eye problems are so common.
If you are an employee facing eye problems or visual discomforts due to your work, you are entitled to a free eye test from your employer.
Maintaining a good workplace and taking care of employees’ overall health is the responsibility of the employer. And, needless to say, good eye health is a major contributor to workers’ well being.
Employer’s legal obligations
As per the Health and Safety Legislation UK, an employer must protect their workers from health risks arising from working with display screen equipment (DSE).
The legislation state that any employee who uses a digital screen at their workstation is a DSE user and is entitled to a free eye test and eye care by their employer under certain circumstances which we’ll discuss later.
However, these regulations are not applicable to workers who use a display screen for a short time or infrequently.
What are the common Eye Problems at Work?
Many of our work involves using digital devices such as computers or laptops and using them for more than 2 to 3 hours can cause various visual discomfort. The various eye conditions cause disruption and annoyance in the workflow of the employees while making them feel exhausted. Though we don’t have enough evidence to prove that these several vision discomforts can cause serious or permanent vision loss but is it well known that if not treated on time, it can be a progressive damage. The various visual problems are also known as computer vision syndrome.
What is Computer vision Syndrome?
Computer vision syndrome is frequent eye damage that occurs when any person uses a computer or any other digital device for extended hours.
Though the initial problems are comparatively smaller to but quite unbearable for any employees to continue their work in perfection. Here are the common problems listed by various employees:
- Itchiness in the eyes.
- Headache and eye strain.
- Burning sensation.
- Dry eyes syndrome.
- Watery eyes or Blurry vision.
- Feeling of an external particle in the eyes.
What are Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Users?
If you fall under the category of being a DSE user then you are completely entitled for a free eye test. The law for a healthy workplace environment states that if any DSE user asks for an eye test because they are experiencing vision problems then the employers should rightly arrange it. DSE users are office employees who use display screen equipment like monitors or laptops for performing a significant part of their work. The Health and Safety Executive mentions that any employee who is a regular DSE user or works on display screen equipment for more than two-three hours a day then needs a frequent break and right treatment ensuring free eye test and glasses.
Does an employer have to pay for eye tests ?
If your work involves operating on a computer or laptop then you are a DSE user hence you have the right to ask for an eye test. Your employer can arrange an eye test at your workplace and they have to also pay for the cost of the eye examination. The optometrist or the optician will be decided by the employer not the employees and hence it becomes the responsibility of theirs to pay the complete fee. All the DSE users can ask for an annual or routine eye test to ensure their good eye health.
Does an employer have to pay for glasses?
If the eye test proves that you need glasses in order to protect your vision then it's the employer duty to provide you with the glasses. The glasses are not prescription glasses but computer glasses to suppress any further visual damage to the employees. If you require computer glasses then the complete charge would be paid by your employer. The glasses are not high prescription glasses but rather designed for DSE users.
The cost of the glasses is very basic i.e the cost of the frames and the lenses. If there is any further complication then you can set a fixed limit for the basic of glasses that the employer is willing to pay hence the matter will be communicated easily. If a person wants to buy a particular type of frame that exceeds the limit, then the employer can pay the basic cost while the employee pays the additional charge.