Eye Tests and Your Employer

I use a computer every day in my job. Am I entitled to a free eye test?

Yes, using VDUs (visual display units), sometimes referred to as DSE (display screen equipment) is covered by the DSE Regulations 2007. These regulations are applicable:

  • If you must use a VDU to carry out your work
  • If you normally use a VDU for continuous periods of more than one hour
  • If you use the VDU every day.

According to the regulations, every employee who regularly uses a VDU for a significant part of their normal work, is entitled to opt for an appropriate eye test and an eyesight test. These must be made available and paid for by the employer, except where there may be a social welfare entitlement.

Are there any types of VDU not covered by these regulations?

Yes, the regulations exclude:

  • Drivers’ cabs or control cabs for vehicles or machinery
  • Computer systems on board a vehicle
  • Computer systems mainly intended for public use
  • Portable display screen equipment not in prolonged use at a workstation
  • Calculators, cash registers and any equipment having a small data or measurement display required for

    direct use of the equipment.

Should my employer inform me of my right to an eye test?

Yes. The employer must inform employees that they are entitled to be provided with an appropriate eye and eyesight test. The employer may do this in a number of ways including:

  • Consulting with the company safety representative and writing a memo
  • Putting the memo on a notice board
  • Asking the human resource manager or specialist to tell all relevant employees that these eye tests are available.

Who can carry out an eyesight test?

A doctor or optometrist can do the eyesight tests. They may also be done by a person (including a nurse) trained to use a vision-screening machine. The person operating the machine must know when to refer employees who do not pass the eyesight tests at the screening level to a doctor or optometrist.

How frequently should eyesight tests be carried out?

Employees have the right to an eye and eyesight test before taking up work if they will regularly be working on a VDU, as well as at regular intervals after that.

When deciding how often to offer repeat eye tests, the employer should take into account:

  • The ages of the employees
  • The intensity of VDU work.
  • Additionally, an employer must make appropriate eye and eyesight tests available to an employee who experiences visual difficulties, which may be due to display screen work.

    Must employers pay for glasses?

    Sometimes. Where eye tests carried out by the doctor or optometrist reveal that particular lenses are required for VDU work, the employer must pay for the minimum needed frames and lenses. They can take into account any social welfare entitlement that the person may be entitled to.

    Where an employee already wears glasses or lenses to correct a visual defect and they need their regular change of lenses or glasses, if these are adequate also for VDU work, the employer does not have to pay for them.

    In other words, if a person is found to need glasses specifically for working with a VDU, the employer is liable. Otherwise, the costs must be borne by the employee.