More than half of UK employees say their current working environment has had a negative impact on their eye health, according to new research.

Headaches and blurred vision are just some of the eye-related problems employees associate with their jobs.

The worrying impact of eye care in the workplace is highlighted in the results of a survey of 7,000 UK workers by health insurer Westfield Health ahead of National Eye Health Week (22-28 September 2014).

More than half of respondents (53 per cent) say their current working environment has had a negative impact on their eye health, or their vision has got worse as a result of work, with other common conditions identified including eye strain and dry eyes.

The research also found 82 per cent use a VDU (visual display unit) as part of their job, and nearly a third of respondents (32 per cent) were not aware of the statutory Health & Safety requirements for their employer to pay the full cost of an eye test and basic spectacles (if required for VDU use).

Paul Shires, executive director of Westfield Health, said: “Regular sight tests are essential in order to keep a check on eye health, with experts recommending an examination once every two years.

“Our findings indicate screens play a core part of many people’s working life today which means employers must ensure they meet duty of care regulations, as well as inform staff of this entitlement.”

The survey also found seven per cent of people had taken time off work because of an eye-related illness or accident, such as conjunctivitis, burst blood vessels, cataracts, and headaches and migraines due to eyestrain.

Westfield Health is an official partner for the fifth annual National Eye Health Week which sees eye care charities, organisations and health professionals from across the UK join together to promote the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests.

David Cartwright, chair of National Eye Health Week, said: “Prolonged screen use can put enormous strain on our eyes and trigger episodes of visual stress.

“Following the 20-20-20 rule – look away from your screen every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds and focus on objects 20 feet away!  – can really help combat the effects of screen fatigue and prevent your eyes feeling sore, itchy and tired.”