Keeping an eye on it

It's important to keep an eye on a worker's eyesight
It's important to keep an eye on a worker's eyesight
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Whether we’re working at a computer screen, driving to meetings or operating machinery, our eyes are put through their paces in the workplace all day, every day.

But the Royal National Institute of Blind People estimates 12.5 million don’t have eye tests each year. So what can employers do to ensure their staff are keeping their vision fit for work? And where does the responsibility lie?

Since 1992, employers have been legally obliged to provide free sight tests for any employee who works at a visual display unit (VDU), and with the workplace introduction of tablets and smartphones, this obligation is more widespread than ever.

Working at a screen for long periods can lead to computer vision syndrome (CVS), a problem affecting 64 to 90 per cent of people who use computers, according to Boots Web MD. Symptoms include eye strain, headaches, eye discomfort, dry eyes, double and blurred vision.

To reduce the risk of employees developing CVS, employers should encourage staff to take screen breaks every 20 minutes to rest their eyes and allow vision to refocus. And by providing access to regular eye tests, employers can be reassured staff are getting their vision checked and are wearing the correct eyewear for their job.

But aside from the regulatory requirements, there are also health-related reasons why employers should look after their employees’ eyesight.

A full eye examination can detect serious health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, thereby helping businesses to prevent costs caused by sickness absence further down the line.

As an official partner of this year’s National Eye Health Week, from September 22-28, we’re stressing the importance of helping employees to keep their vision in good condition.

At Westfield Health, we help thousands of UK employers to manage the health and wellbeing of their staff. Our optical benefit, which is included in the majority of our health cash plans, provides money back towards the cost of sight tests and eyewear.

Our hospital treatment insurance, which can be bought by employers as a standalone product or via one of our cash plans, provides fast access to private surgical procedures such as cataract removal.

Providing health cover reassures businesses that they are fulfilling health and safety requirements and supporting the health of their workforce. Go to www.westfieldhealth.com for more information on health cover.