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FAQ on glasses for computer work

What are computer glasses?

They are a type of work glasses used when working on a computer in order to prevent eye problems. Those who work on a computer may need to have an eye test to determine whether special work glasses are needed.

Computer glasses, like other work glasses, are an item of work equipment that belongs to the employer. However, it is common for employees to be allowed to take their glasses with them when they leave their post.

How often should I have my eyes tested?

In order to decide what the most appropriate interval is, ask your optician or the Occupational Health Service. Every two to five years is an approximate interval. Young people may manage with longer intervals.

Is it my employer’s responsibility to ensure I have an eye test?

Employers are to ensure that all employees who usually spend more than an hour a day working in front of a computer receive an eye examination. It is the responsibility of the employer to have routines in place for this and to follow them up.

Employees are responsible for keeping track of when they are due for an eye test, contacting the Occupational Health Service or optician to make an appointment, and informing their employer of any problems or complaints related to work on a computer.

I’m on a temporary contract. Do I have the right to computer glasses?

The rules on work with display screen equipment (AFS 1998:5) apply regardless of the type or length of your appointment. However, in practice there is a certain waiting time for both an eye examination and delivery of glasses, so if your contract is shorter than the time this takes, there is little point having your eyes tested.

Employers are entitled to apply to the Swedish Work Environment Authority for an exemption from the rules on eye examinations and glasses for computer work.

Can I choose which optician I go to for an eye examination?

No. For eye examinations for computer glasses, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that employees undergo an eye examination. The employer is therefore also entitled to decide how the eye examinations are to be performed.

Lund University has an agreement with the Synoptik chain of opticians. You have a right to request an appointment with an optician trained in visual ergonomics.

Is there a difference between an eye examination for work and for private glasses?

Yes, an eye examination for work only addresses conditions at work. It identifies whether corrective glasses are required for the employee’s specific work situation.

An employer’s responsibility for the work environment includes ensuring that those who work on a computer have their eyes tested. The employer decides how the eye examinations are to be performed, for example if employees are to go to the Occupational Health Service or to a specific optician.

You cannot presume that you will be able to go to the same optician that you use privately.

Am I allowed to use my computer glasses at home?

You must agree this with your employer. Glasses for computer work are work equipment and formally belong to your employer. You employer may instruct you to leave your computer glasses in a specific place at the end of the working day.

Does my employer cover the cost of glasses for computer work?

If an eye examination shows that an employee needs glasses that are specially designed for work on a computer, the employer is to ensure that the employee is provided with such glasses.

Can my employer set a limit on the cost of computer glasses?

It is not possible to set a price limit for the lenses, because their cost depends on the type of corrective lens required for a specific type of computer work. Determining factors are the person’s sight, the tasks performed on the computer, the sight demands of the work and the distance from the computer screen. However, the employer can set a limit on the cost of the frames.

An employer can choose to meet the requirement to provide computer glasses in a manner that is as financially advantageous as possible to the employer (for example, through an agreement with an optician to obtain the best price).

When is an employer obliged to pay for ‘occupational lenses’?

If the working circumstances entail a distance from the computer screen of between 35 and 200 centimetres, you may need occupational lenses.

Can I pay part of the cost of the glasses to get the pair I want?

If you want any features in addition to what the eye examination indicates is required for your work, for example a lens coating or a certain frame, you need to ask your employer how this can be managed. Your employer can refuse to allow you to pay part of the cost, because the computer glasses are work equipment that belong to your employer.

If an employer allows employees to pay part of the cost of computer glasses, there may be issues that need to be clarified, for instance: who will pay for any repairs to the frames if the employee has paid part of the cost of them?

Should my employer pay for an anti-reflective coating on computer glasses?

It depends. Employees have the right to computer glasses that enable them to work in front of a screen without any problems. Some people have specific needs that must be met in order to achieve a satisfactory work environment.

An anti-reflective coating may be necessary if it is not possible to take measures to deal with the source of the reflections in the workplace. An optician or ophthalmologist is best placed to judge whether an anti-reflective coating is necessary on the basis of the employee’s duties and sight.

Section 6 of the rules on work with display screen equipment, AFS 1998:5, states that “measures that need to be taken with the support of this paragraph must not entail costs for employees”.

More information in sections 2, 3 and 6 of AFS 1998:5 Bildskärmsarbete on the Swedish Work Environment Authority website (in Swedish)

Do only single vision lenses count as computer glasses?

No, special lenses for work on a computer (occupational lenses) may be bifocal or varifocal if this is required for the sight demands of your work. The eye examination shows what type of corrective lenses are needed for the person concerned in their current work situation.

Can I choose contact lenses instead of computer glasses?

Contact lenses are not primarily intended for work on a computer like computer glasses are. Contact lenses are not normally work equipment that your employer is obliged to provide. If an employer wants to provide employees with contact lenses, there is nothing to prevent this – on the condition that the requirements of the rules are met. The rules on work with display screen equipment in AFS 1998:5 do not cover contact lenses.

What does more than an hour a day mean in section 6 of the rules on computer work?

More than an hour a day means the total time you spend reading a computer screen during the working day.

Can I refuse to use the glasses if I don’t like them?

No, you cannot. If an eye examination has shown that you need special computer glasses for your work and your employer has provided you with such glasses, you are obliged to use this equipment when working on the computer.

If you refuse to do this, you are preventing your employer from meeting their responsibility for the work environment.

Under the Work Environment Act, employers and employees should collaborate to achieve a good work environment, and the employee is obliged to participate in work environment management.

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