Focus Eyecare

Discomfort and eye strain from extensive computer display use?

Computer Users

An introduction to eye care at work
Although extensive research by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has found no evidence that computer monitors cause eye diseases or permanent damage, it is still known and accepted that using display screen equipment for many hours can cause discomfort and eye strain.

Computer vision syndrome
Computer vision syndrome is a common condition among frequent monitor users, with symptoms ranging from tired eyes to blurry vision. Other symptoms of computer vision syndrome are difficulty focussing on distant objects, headaches, dry eyes and eye strain.
If you experience any of these symptoms you should visit an optician for an eye test, to rule out anything more serious.

Taking care of your eyes
If working with computer displays is a significant part of your working life then you should minimise the risks of prolonged use by taking regular breaks. Short but frequent breaks are best.
It’s also helpful to change the type of work you are doing – especially if you can change to a type of work that does not involve looking at computer monitors.
Your employer must let you take regular breaks or regular changes in activity.

What is display screen equipment (DSE)?
Display screen equipment includes computer monitors or displays that are used to display information. Computer monitors are often referred to as visual display units (VDUs) in health and safety terminology. Microfiche readers and control screens are also display equipment.

Free eye tests – what you are entitled to
If it is essential that you spend some of your working days using a display screen (or are due to start using a screen) then you are entitled to an eye test paid for by your employer.
While your employer may suggest their preferred optician, if you have special requirements and need to see a specialist, your employer is obliged to make a reasonable payment towards the cost.

Help with the cost of glasses
If an eye test shows that you need to wear glasses when using a visual display then your employer is obliged to pay for your glasses.