Am I Entitled To Have An Eye Test For VDU Work?

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 require employers to provide, upon request, an appropriate eye and eyesight test to VDU users.The eye and eyesight test should be conducted by an optician, or a doctor who is suitably qualified. The test should include a vision screening test and an examination of the eyes. In practice, this means a full eye test as carried out by an ophthalmic optician, although many companies offer the more limited vision screening tests. Vision screening is not a full eye and eyesight test, which employees can insist upon.

The employer can specify which optician carries out the tests, although many VDU workers simply visit a High Street optician. The cost of the test must be met by the employer.

The DSE regulations require that eye and eyesight tests be provided:

  • as soon as practicable after existing display screen users have made their request;
  • when somebody is newly recruited or is transferred to carry out VDU work and at regular intervals thereafter, depending on the judgment of the optician or doctor (this will vary for individuals, with yearly or two-yearly intervals being the most common); and
  • when users are experiencing visual difficulties, such as eyestrain or problems with focussing, which may reasonably be considered to be related to the VDU work.

Following the eye test, the optician may prescribe “special corrective appliances” (normally spectacles) to be worn when carrying out VDU work. For instance, some people who already wear spectacles or contact lenses may need a different lens for correcting their vision to work at the screen.

If the optician prescribes glasses specifically for VDU work, the employer must pay the cost of these. However, the 1992 Regulations limit the employer’s liability to the cost of providing a “basic appliance”. The employer is not obliged to pay for designer frames, or for optional treatment to lenses (tints, special coatings etc). If employees want a better looking or “nicer” pair of glasses, most employers will pay a proportion of the costs (e.g. œ50) and expect the employee to fund the excess.

If you require any more advice or information on working with VDUs please contact your GMB Regional Health and Safety Officer.