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Display screen equipment and eyesight tests for employees

​​​Provision of eye and eyesight tests

The Display Screen Equipment at Work Approved Code of Practice (DSE ACoP) requires employers to provide employees, who have been identified as ‘users’, with an appropriate eye and eyesight test upon request.

This includes a test of vision and an examination of the eye and must be carried out by a registered ophthalmic optician or a suitable qualified doctor.

The definition of a 'user' is contained within the DSE ACoP. Employers of persons who use display screen equipment (DSE) are required to determine whether they are a 'user' or not.

Approved code of practice display screen equipment at work ACoP4 

Purpose of the test

The test determines whether the user has any sight defect which requires correction when working with DSE.

During the eye test, users will need to describe their display screen and working environment, particularly the distance at which they view the screen.

Current medical evidence shows that using DSE is not associated with permanent damage to eyes or eyesight; nor does it make existing defects worse.

Some users may experience temporary visual fatigue leading to a range of symptoms such as:

  • blurred vision
  • sore eyes
  • headaches

Users with pre-existing vision defects may become more aware of these when working with DSE and if left uncorrected it can make their work more tiring and stressful.

Arrangements for testing

Employers must set up a system for providing users with appropriate eye and eyesight tests and may find the following points helpful:

  • contact a number of opticians and ask what they charge for tests and basic glasses for work with DSE
  • ask for standard information about each user tested, such as whether they need glasses for DSE work and when they should be re-tested
  • tell users what arrangements have been made
  • make sure users understand what the employer will and won’t pay for; for example, glasses not required for DSE work and designer frames will not be paid for 

Employers must provide an appropriate eye and eyesight test upon request from a 'user', but there are a number of different approaches they may take, which include:

Vision screening

Vision screening tests are a means of identifying individuals with defective vision, who then need to undergo a full eyesight test. Employees are not obliged to take part in the screening and may choose to exercise their right to request a full DSE sight test.

Nominated optician

Employers can nominate a particular optician to carry out an appropriate eye and eyesight test for their employees who request one.

The employee is obliged to use this optician and the employer will pay for the test.

Employee’s own optician

Employers may allow employees to be tested by their own optician and will then refund the employees on presentation of the bill.

The employer is only required to pay for tests which are performed with the specific purpose of determining whether correction is required for use of DSE.

Provision of glasses

Where it is identified that an employee requires glasses specifically for working with DSE, the employer must pay the cost of a basic pair of frames and lenses.

Some employers may allow the glasses to be upgraded but this will be at the employee’s expense.

Where users require spectacles for a number of purposes which includes the use of DSE, employers need only pay the costs attributable to the requirements of the DSE involved.

Requirements for re-testing

The frequency of repeat testing varies between individuals and is dependant on factors such as age. The qualified person carrying out the test should determine how often testing is required.

Any examination or correction of vision defects required within this period, which are not related to display screen work, are the responsibility of the individual and not the employer.

Further information

The DSE ACoP requires employers to make arrangements for managing the risks associated with the use of display screen equipment. The provision of eye and eyesight tests is only one part of the process.

Approved code of practice display screen equipment at work ACoP4
Guidance on the provision of eye and eyesight tests

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