“As many as four in ten employers are breaking health and safety regulations by not providing eyecare for their employees.”

Any business owner knows the golden rule; if you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of your company. Healthy, engaged employees are your best competitive advantage. Regardless of your business model, industry or the products you sell, you still need an astounding team to operate and nurture it, meaning that employee wellbeing should be a top priority on your business agenda.

However, research conducted by Specsavers in June 2015, revealed that as many as four in ten employers are breaking health and safety regulations by not providing eyecare for their employees.

The majority of the week is spent at the workplace and, if you work in an office environment, this could mean long periods of intense concentration on a screen at close vision. This can have a hugely negative impact on your employees’ eyes and subsequently a negative impact on the business. Having a routine eye examination achieves a lot more than simply checking the vision is adequate. Many degenerative eye health conditions can also be detected. These include:

  • Cataracts
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Glaucoma
  • Age-related macular degeneration (dry and wet)
  • Retinal detachment
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)

What is perhaps less well known is that an eye examination also gives the optometrist insight into the health of the entire body. This includes the possibility of detecting systemic conditions such as raised blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and arthritis. But how is this relevant to your organisation and what steps can you take to ensure the health and well-being of your staff is maintained?

Statutory requirements

Under the 1992 Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) act anyone who regularly uses Display Screen Equipment (DSE) or Visual Display Units (VDUs) for work must be provided with appropriate eyecare. This means your business is legally required to provide regular company-funded eye examinations and glasses if required. The cost of these must be met entirely by the employer, but this is only the case if glasses are specifically required to view the DSE/VDU and if the employee’s own glasses are not suitable. Employers are also required to provide prescription safety eye wear for individuals who work in roles where specialist eye protection is necessary to undertake tasks.


Eye tests should be offered before an employee commences work with DSE/VDU and then at regular intervals determined by the optician. Generally it is advised to have an eye examination once every two years at minimum.

Choice of optician

Whilst an employer is obliged to pay for eye tests and glasses, this does not permit employees the right to present their boss with an unsanctioned expenses claim. An employer is allowed to recommend an optician and, as prices can vary considerably, it is wise to do so.


Arranging eye examinations for the entire company can seem like a daunting task so to minimise complications many employers are opting for voucher schemes to cover eyecare. The employer simply purchases as many vouchers as required and gives them to employees who require an eye test. When an eye examination is required the employee produces the voucher to the company selected optician and arranges an appointment.

Employee welfare is a big undertaking however ultimately it will pay off. Your team are vital to the success and survival of your business. Failing to recognise the importance of this can have a damaging impact to your financial bottom line. Many serious medical conditions can go undetected and the delay in action can have severe consequences to the health of your employees. A simple eye examination can help discover a number of medical conditions that not only affect the eyes but the whole body which keeps your employees healthy and can potentially save lives. An employer’s responsibility to their employees’ welfare shouldn’t be restricted to 9-5, rather a more holistic approach should be taken. Eye examinations are a small price to pay for a happier, healthier and therefore more productive workforce.