Claiming for the Cost of Eye Tests and Glasses as a Business Expense

HMRC has ruled that, in line with Health and Safety regulations, workers using visual display unit (VDU) or display screen equipment (DSE), who meet strict requirements, may be entitled to claim for the costs of eye tests and glasses from their businesses and employers.

Here are the rules you need to satisfy to put the costs through your business, depending on your UK business structure.

Claiming for Eye Tests and Glasses If Your Are Self-Employed

If you are self-employed, the cost of your eye test is not an allowable business expense because there is no legal requirement to follow Health & Safety Regulations.

When it comes to the cost of your glasses or contact lenses, if you wear them outside of work, then you will be unlikely to claim for this cost against your taxes because they have a duality of purpose.

It is unlikely that HMRC would accept that they are wholly business and so they would disallow them for tax purposes.

Of course, if you have them for purely work purposes and leave them at your desk, then you may be able to argue they are a business expense and claim them on your tax return.

A Guide to Claiming Self Employed Expenses

Claiming for Eye Tests and Glasses If You Have a Limited Company

If you have a Limited Company, then the rules are different from those of the self-employed. That’s because your business us a separate entity it must follow Health and Safety Regulations.

The cost of eye tests for Limited Company Directors and its employees are deemed an allowable business expense against corporation tax where you or your team need to use a digital screen like a laptop, for one hour or more per day on a regular basis.

When it comes to the cost of glasses and contact lenses, again you need to consider any duality of purpose. In other words, if you wear glasses or contact lenses in your everyday life it becomes more difficult to argue that the cost is business related.

If the result of your eye test shows that you need a special prescription to use glasses or contact lenses for work reasons only, then the cost can be claimed as a business expense. But in reality, this can be hard to prove and you’ll need to leave your glasses at your desk/office and have other pairs for things like driving, watch TV and so on.

If your glasses or contact lenses are for general use however you will not be able to claim the full cost of the glasses.

Instead, you could choose to claim a portion relating to your business. However, this will result in that portion you claim as a business expense becoming a taxable benefit so you’ll need to complete P11d forms, paying Class 1a national insurance.

If you have employees, then the same rules extend to them. But it is not your responsibility to remind or arrange for your employees to take their eye test. The onus is fully on them to make the booking and claim back the cost of their eye test, which is then an allowable business expense.

Some employers opt to arrange eye tests with specific opticians so they can monitor the cost, even purchasing vouchers in advance that employees can use to help make the cost more reasonable.

An Employer may need to pay for glasses and contact lense for their employee if it is shown that the glasses are needed for specific DSE and VDU. In these cases the employer is only obliged to pay for basic glasses frame and lenses – they don’t have to pay for expensive options.

If the employee wears glasses for personal reasons, the employer is not obliged to pay for glasses or contact lenses unless specifically prescribed for VDU and DSE reasons.

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About Anita Forrest

Anita Forrest is a Chartered Accountant, spreadsheet geek, money nerd and creator of - the UK small business finance blog for the self-employed community. Here she shares simple, straight-forward guides to make self-employment topics like taxes, bookkeeping and banking easy to understand.