eyesight at computer screen

National Eye Health Week and working with computers

September 19 2021

More people are working on computers, laptops and other mobile devices than ever before – which makes National Eye Health Week from September 20th to 26th a great opportunity to remind people of the need to protect their eyesight at work.

Spending long periods of time working on screens can lead to a range of health problems and while Display Screen Equipment (DSE) working doesn’t cause permanent damage to the eyes, it can lead to discomfort, tired eyes, more headaches and, in some cases, temporary short-sightedness.

A legal requirement

Employers have a legal obligation to safeguard their staff from the health risks of working with equipment like PCs, tablets, laptops and smartphones under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) regulations. These rules apply to workers using DSE regularly, more than an hour or more at any one time and mean employers must:

  • Provide and pay for an eye test for employees using DSE if they ask for one. The test must include an eye examination and vision test and be carried out by a doctor or optometrist.
  • Provide and pay for the employee to have glasses if they require them for DSE use only. This doesn’t apply in cases where an ordinary prescription is deemed appropriate.
  • Assess DSE workstations – including those of flexible and home workers – and reduce any identified health risks.

Important checks for employees

Employees must also take responsibility for taking care of their eyesight at work and some simple steps include:

  • Taking regular screen breaks.
  • Ensuring text and images on screen are of an adequate size to be seen clearly.
  • Reducing screen glare.
  • Ensuring suitable lighting conditions.
  • Checking the screen is adjusted correctly. 

General eyecare

National Eye Health Week is an excellent time to think about just how important your eyesight is and the need to take care of it.

Unfortunately, two million people in the UK are living with sight loss severe enough to have a significant effect on their lives and it is estimated that half of these conditions are avoidable.

Regular eyesight tests are important, particularly as you get older, and can help to identify other conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and glaucoma – a condition which can be successfully treated if found early enough.

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