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Breakfast Friday, 21 June, 2002, 04:53 GMT 05:53 UK
Computer eye tests
eye test carried out by a qualified optician
most of us don't claim our free eye tests
If you're reading this, you're probably very computer literate.

But, have you ever stopped to think of the impact the computer has on your eyesight?

Robin Hutchinson of Guide Dogs for the Blind
to use the online test, you need a pair of 3-D specs
A new survey has discovered that many of us are unaware that we're legally entitled to a free eye test if we use computers for more than an hour a day at work.

And, fewer than half of us have ever claimed our right, according to a survey for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Most - especially men - say they've simply never got round to having their eyes tested.

Now, Guide Dogs for the Blind is launching a new onliine eye test.


Downloadable from Guide Dogs' website, the test 'the Vision Screener', gives a basic assessment of a person's workstation set-up before taking them through a series of eye tests.

Participants simply cover their eyes with special 3D glasses available from high street retailers Dorothy Perkins and Burton, for a suggested donation of 1, or from Guide Dogs (0118 983 8228).

The charity is also re-launching its EyeKon, the reverse of a screen saver, which again is free and downloadable.

It runs continuously on your computer but every hour the programme flashes up a message encouraging people to take a break and rest their eyes.

Vision breaks are not just important for your eyes - research at Cornell University in New York State has found that computer workers who take short breaks are more productive than those who don't take breaks.

The research showed that workers who received screen alerts to take the breaks were 13% more accurate in their work than those who didn't.

According to the London Hazards Centre, surveys of people working with a VDU for more than six hours a day have found that more than 70% experience visual problems.

The most common of these are eyestrain, double vision, temporary short-sightedness and visual fatigue.

Although computer usage has not been conclusively shown to cause permanent damage to healthy eyes, there is evidence to suggest that small vision defects, which do not cause symptoms in everyday life, may start to cause problems when carrying out more visually demanding tasks.

VDUs and the law

Under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, people who use a VDU as a habitual part of their job are entitled to an eye and eyesight test administered by a qualified professional and paid for by their employer.

Employers are required to pay for any prescription spectacles needed by their employees to carry out their VDU work.

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