When Your Visual Impairment Is Confusing to Your Coworkers

Perhaps you have retinitis pigmentosa (RP), and you are finding it increasingly difficult to use your vision in low light and, much to your frustration, you are aware of your gradual loss of peripheral vision. Let’s say you are currently reading fine print with ease, yet you are using a cane as you leave work in the evening, and you’ve been told you consistently fail to notice a coworker waving hello from the corner of the room. You’re overwhelmed, and your coworkers, well, they’re puzzled.

Whether or not your eye condition is recent or progressive, your coworkers are likely just as confused. They don’t understand the functional implications of vision loss. They don’t know those with different eye conditions see differently; they don’t know vision can fluctuate, and to make matters worse, they don’t know what you can see and if the topic is off limits. Should you address their concerns?

Yes, your visual impairment is yours—coworkers aren’t owed an explanation. Yet perhaps, it is in your best interest to address the unspoken questions.

Perhaps addressing your visual impairment subsides fears.

Perhaps addressing your visual impairment gets their minds off of it.

Perhaps addressing your visual impairment educates employers and future employers, and a few minutes of your time leads to their hiring other folks with visual impairments.

If you’re feeling up to quickly educating the team, read our tips for how to do so here: "The Frustration of Being Visually Impaired Without Looking Visually Impaired and How to Handle it On the Job."

Let us know your experience addressing coworkers’ concerns and any additional suggestions for others in this situation.

Additional Resources

Thoughts from the Road: Dealing with the General Public and Always Being "On"

The Fear of the Foreign: Addressing Unspoken Concerns of Hiring Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Deteriorating Eyesight and an Increasingly Difficult Workload to Manage

Learning About Blindness: Interacting with a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired in the Workforce