Your Eyes and VDU's
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Click here for Health and Safety Executive advice 

Display Screen Equipment (DSE) is considered to be any appliance which provides its user with a display of words, numbers or graphics, or a combination of all three.  Typically it may be a computer screen (VDU) used for word processing, information storage, graphic design or a microfiche reader.

A user is an employee who regularly uses display screen equipment as a significant part of his or her normal work.

A workstation comprises the display screen equipment with its accessories as well as the immediate work area.


Possible Problems

Although DSE users tend to complain of eye or eyesight problems more often than non-users, there appears to be no agreement that any harm is suffered.  If you experience eyestrain while using your VDU or microfiche, it may be due to a number of causes such as:

bulletInsufficient and infrequent rest periods
bulletIncorrect positioning of the screen and/or documents
bulletUnsuitable lighting
bulletPoorly designed work area
bulletAn uncorrected focussing fault such as long sight, short sight, astigmatism or presbyopia
bulletThe eyes not working "as a team"

These conditions may occur singly or in combination, but all may be controlled by good design of the working environment and by regular optometric care.  Wearing spectacles, doing eye exercises or changes to your working arrangements to relieve any discomfort may be recommended.


Spectacles                                                                            Back to top

Only a small proportion of users will need spectacles specifically for their DSE work and the majority of these will be what is known as presbyopic.  Presbyopia affects us all as we get older.  As a result, around the age of 40 to 45, people find they lose the ability to focus on objects that are close up.

Spectacles with single vision, bifocal or multifocal lenses can all be used successfully for DSE work.  Contact lenses are also suitable, although wearers should ensure that they blink normally.  Presbyopic contact lens wearers may need additional reading glasses.



Whenever possible, your screen should have a non-reflective surface and should be of the highest resolution.  You should also take care to keep the screen clean and free of unwanted reflections.  Brightness and contrast controls should be set for your own comfort.  Regular maintenance of VDU's is essential.  Any unwanted flicker or movement of the display should be corrected.



Your keyboard, screen and document positions should all be sufficiently adjustable to be placed for your own comfort.  The overall work range is between 33-100 cm.  You should have sufficient space behind the screen for you to be able to look past it and relax your eyes regularly.



Try to eliminate as much glare as possible from the region around your screen.  This is not always straightforward but as a general rule:

bulletThe office lighting should be set at a level which allows the documents and the screen to be read easily. Additional lighting, such as an angle poise lamp, may sometimes be necessary to achieve this.
bulletAvoid an uncurtained window directly in front or behind you in your working position.
bulletAny window reflected in the screen surface should be fitted with blinds or curtains with a matt finish.
bulletWalls should be non-reflective
bulletDesk surfaces should be non-reflective and neutral in colour


Your Entitlement as a DSE User                            Back to Top

To find out whether your work is covered by DSE regulations, it is necessary to consult both the Regulations and the Guidance on the Regulations issued by the Health and Safety Executive.  Your employer is responsible for analysing the workstation to assess and minimise any risks to the health and safety of the user. 

If you are classed as a user by your employer, they must provide:

bulletA full eye examination free of charge to yourself when you commence DSE work and at regular intervals thereafter
bulletA full eye examination free of charge to yourself if you are having visual problems which may be due to working with DSE
bulletBasic spectacles at no cost to yourself if prescribed for you under the employer's arrangements and if you need them specifically for DSE work.  The spectacles become specific if they differ optically from those you need for ordinary use
bulletAdequate breaks or changes of activity to reduce general and visual fatigue.
bulletHealth and safety training and information relating to the workstation.  Keep you informed about the Regulations, particularly those relating to eyesight, rest breaks and the Guidance on workstations minimum requirements and personal assessment of them.