The Display Screen Equipment Regulations clearly state that there is a requirement to provide eye and eyesight tests, on request, to all current or new Display Screen Equipment users.
Simple vision screening tests can be carried out for groups of employees on-site, but these do not satisfy the requirements of the DSE Regulations and staff are still entitled to request a full eye test and sight test regardless of their outcome.
There is no evidence to suggest that DSE work will cause permanent damage to eyes or eyesight. Eye tests are provided to ensure users can comfortably see the screen and work effectively without visual fatigue.
Many employers believe that eye tests must be conducted either annually or bi-annually, but what the Regulations actually say is that the professional guidance of the optometrist should be followed. In practice, this is often a two year test cycle, but will depend entirely on the condition of the individual patient, and must be respected by the employer.
For new users, the test must be conducted before the employee starts using VDU (visual display unit), but for re-tests the requirement is only that they are carried out as soon as is practicable.
There is also a provision in the Regulations for any DSE user to request an eye test at any time outside these defined periods if they experience visual difficulties in the course of their work. However, the Regulations include a “reasonableness” condition, so employers can legitimately resist frivolous or excessive claims.
The regulations are clear about the absolute minimum requirements for the provision of “special” corrective appliances, specifically required to reading a display screen. These are distinguished from “normal” corrective appliances that are quite simply, glasses used for anything else.
The critical criterion is whether glasses are required specifically to view the screen clearly at the correct distance of between 330mm and 600mm. The basic requirement is to provide single-vision spectacles suitable for viewing a screen at the appropriate distance.
There is no provision for employers to fund the cost of contact lenses for DSE work under any circumstances.
On the money
The cause of much confusion is the misconception that a simple contribution from the employer is acceptable. To comply with the Regulations, the employer must pay the full costs of an eye test and the provision of basic spectacles where required.
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