According to unofficial estimates, as many as one in three of the UK workforce are unaware that they have vision defects, which need to be corrected to prevent further deterioration, especially if engaged in visually demanding VDU work.
Early warning symptoms for workers with an uncorrected vision defect could be reoccurring pain, headaches and blurred vision which may result from working at a VDU.
On request, an employer must provide and pay for an eye and eyesight test carried out by an optometrist or doctor, with an entitlement to further tests at regular intervals.
DSE Regulations, which include specific requirements for testing, cover both eye examinations and sight tests.
The Regulations state that employers of both existing VDU users and new users: Shall ensure that he (sic) is provided at his request with an appropriate eye and eyesight test, any such test to be carried out by a competent person.
Occurrences of vision screening tests only - not full sight tests - may be offered by employers as a means of identifying those who need a full sight test (although users will still be entitled to request a full sight test).
It is often the case that lack of in-depth knowledge of the distinction between eye examinations, vision screening and full sight tests, may lead to many VDU workers being deprived of their rights, i.
the purchase by employers of a piece of electronic equipment to do the job to 'save them time and money' does not fulfill the requirements of the regulations.
The Regulations clearly state that employers must offer employees testing by registered ophthalmic opticians (optometrists) or registered medical practitioners with suitable ophthalmic qualifications.
The Regulations also specify that eye examinations and sight test reports should be made to both employer and employee by the optometrist, and should also state whether or not corrective appliances (i.
glasses or contact lenses) are needed for VDU work.
If the eye and sight tests show that an employee needs glasses (corrective appliances) specifically to correct vision defects at the viewing distance of the VDU, then the employer must provide them.
Where special glasses for VDU work have been prescribed, the employer only has to pay for the basic cost, i.
lenses and frames, which adequately correct the vision defect affecting VDU work.
If the employee wants special frames or glasses which perform other functions, then the employer must still pay the basic cost, but the employee would have to make up the difference.
Where a number of employees are found to require corrective appliances, increasingly an online opticians will offer a corporate company plan to provide to specification the required glasses for VDU use.