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Nursing with vision loss/low vision

Specializes in Psych.

Hi all! I have been an RN working in mental health nursing for 6 years now. I currently work in a community based mental health agency on a mobile treatment team. In April, I was diagnosed with Stargardt Disease which for all intents and purposes is an early onset version of macular degeneration caused by an autosomal recessive mutation of the ABCA4 gene. All my life up until the last year or so I have had perfect vision. In nursing school I had perfect vision. Now I am corrected with glasses to 20/60 in the left eye and 20/80 in the right eye. It has progressed within the last 6 months but I don't know how much farther it will progress and in what time frame. Luckily, I have NIH in my backyard and am participating in a Natural History study there.

As far as functional vision, I mostly have problems with close tasks like reading fine print, working on the computer (without magnification) and reading handwriting. I can barely read my own handwriting anymore. Thankfully everything at my workplace is digital so I dont have to decipher chicken scratch orders or anything. I was wondering if there are other low vision nurses out there still successfully working in the field. How do you manage day to day work tasks and what accommodations do you use to make work easier? I am really new to all of this and quite frightened that I may no longer be able to work as a nurse one day.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

There is (or at least used to be) a website "Exceptional Nurse" that was targeted for nurses with disabilities. Maybe you should check that site out. You might find some people with similar issues there -- as well as some information about the legal rights and career suggestions for nurses in your situation.

I wish you the best of luck.

Hi, I too would be interested in what anyone has to say. I also have stargardts disease. I was diagnosed 5 years ago at 25. I have just graduated nursing school in May and will take my NCLEX next month. I start working on a surgical floor the first week in August. I have worked with my vision loss as a PCT for the last 2 years and got through nursing school with my vision loss with minimal accommodations but there were times where it was frustrating. I just can't do things as fast- there is always an extra step. However I do have to say that my instructors always told me that I was one of their best clinical students. At work the flowsheets I use as a PCT are basic so I can manage, and I carry a handheld paperweight magnifier in my pocket for reading urine dip results and small print. The computer has a magnifier if I need to enlarge something. I am nervous to be a nurse though, as all new students are. I am mostly worried about people not understanding. Discriminating against me. I know that I just need to get acclimated and I always find ways around things- we just adjust as human beings but I have not been a nurse yet so so cannot give you much advice, but that I've been online and seen stories of bedside nurses with vision loss and it is still possible as long as you can do the job with accommodation.

Edited by Ariana214
Typo

TerpGal02, ASN

Specializes in Psych.

It's good to "meet" someone else with Stargardts. No one else in my family has it. I am 37 now, did not start noticing something was wrong until I was 36. No one else in my "real life" has Stargardts either. Being a rare disease, it's hard to connect with people who understand what it's like. A very lonely feeling. Anyway, I'm glad to hear someone else with vision loss successfully able to navigate a clinical setting. Good luck in your adventure as a new nurse and keep us posted on how things go!

Hello everyone I am a nursing student living with oculocutaneous albinism. So far I have been doing great but I am not sure if I should go on pursuing my career in nursing because of my eye conditions (myopia/ astigmatism). Also I am not allowed to drive in the state of Texas as a result of the fact that my eye range is too low to pass the test. I just need to know if their is any one here going through or have gone through the same challenges and what I can do to help myself in nursing and driving problems . Thankyou

On 7/30/2018 at 3:37 PM, Es880088 said:

Hello everyone I am a nursing student living with oculocutaneous albinism. So far I have been doing great but I am not sure if I should go on pursuing my career in nursing because of my eye conditions (myopia/ astigmatism). Also I am not allowed to drive in the state of Texas as a result of the fact that my eye range is too low to pass the test. I just need to know if their is any one here going through or have gone through the same challenges and what I can do to help myself in nursing and driving problems . Thankyou

Hi,

I also have oculocutaneous albinism. But I do have a drivers license. I'm relieved to hear you are doing well in nursing school. I just got accepted to nursing school. I will be starting in the Fall. I have similar concerns about my vision and my nursing career. The way I see it, there is so much you can do with a nursing degree, besides patient care. I hope you continue with school. Two of my nursing mentors both have BSNs but wok in office settings using their nursing degrees. Let me know how things go. Also, did you know you can get a waiver for the Texas drivers test eye exam? Your doctor has to sign off on it. I always do that when I have to renew. Good luck with everything.

Geriatric RN with diagnosis of Pseudoexfoliative glaucoma(hereditary)...with optic nerve damage from a pressure of 62 in left eye, vision is 20/250 now........strange thing is I thought this was due to sinus problems and allergies at the time. had a lot of pain around the left eye which I got from time to time with blurred vision......first eye doc didn't even tell me I had Ocular hypertension. 42...and I kept asking him if I had glaucoma.....3 times I asked....then he became very agitated at me....so I left with just buying OTC allergy drops.....the pain was bad....blurriness continued and I saw another great eye optometrist.....did extensive tests.....said I had glaucoma and then follow upped with glaucoma specialist...so I am on drops for it now.....problem is....my job never understood the anxiety and depression It caused me and failed to give me something else besides administering meds which I had a very difficult time with insulin injections and just being on the computer for prolonged periods of time....outside of a ripped meniscus I suffered at work they just wouldn't work with me, I live alone and don't have health insurance to boot......outside of Aflac which was great when I hurt my knee...…....and I worked there almost 5 years at this nursing home. After suffering with sciatica for almost two months and the eye pain acting up due to stress at times ….nothing I told my managers at work fell on a helpful ear.....so now I am seeking suitable work because after the sciatica event....my job said I took too many days off which I cant recall doing....I failed to write all this down for unemployment benefits too...which I highly recommend to any nurse working in a nursing home.....cause they have no compassion. anyway..I have been diligently seeking something in medical offices now and have one I am waiting on(surgeron podiatrist) also....my question is.....do I tell them I have this optic nerve damage or ride it out until I HAVE to tell them. My activites are severely changed now...I used to drive all over the place and close work is very upsetting to do.....Now I fear driving. …tt.he vision loss has impacted my life greatly and I wish it would just go way......but its incurable at this point.

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