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Visually impaired nurses/ legally blind nurses

Hi everyone,

I am a new nursing student, and I was born with albinism. My eyesight is about 20/200 (maybe a tiny bit better), but basically legally blind. I was never raised to be "disabled" and have continued to overcome obstacles in my life (functioning in daily life, and even driving) with minor adaptations. I was just wondering if there are any other nurses out there in similar situations, or know of any nurses who are in a similar situation who could provide insight on what specialties are better suited for this type of situation, what adaptations are found to be helpful in nursing for the visually impaired, or any other special information that I should know about.

I guess my problem sometimes is that I can forget that I am "disabled". I haven't started any of my clinical rotations yet, but I imagine I would like ICU, mental health, oncology, cardiology, or maybe even ED. Does this seem unrealistic? I've always been good at finding ways to adapt, like using magnifiers, apps on my phone, bioptic glasses for driving. At the same time, I don't want to get in over my head and put a patient's life in danger just because I want to follow my dreams. I've been a great massage therapist for almost 7 years, but that really depends more on touch than sight, so I don't have too much of a frame of reference.

Any input would be appreciated, thanks guys!

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma.

You might find this a hindrance to your career. It is very important that you are able to read the tiny little inserts in medicine and small print of syringes to be accurate in your medication administration.

I had a friend that was legally blind uncorrected but corrected she was fine without adaptive devices. You might want to speak to your school first before you make a big investment. I know may facilities do visual acuity and color blindness as a part of the hiring process. Seeing small dots and decimal points is imperative for dosages and calculations.

I wish you the best!

I agree with Esme12. I just want to add to please seek student disability services at your school should you need it. They can accommodate your visual impairment with things such as text readers, text to speech, low vision aid software, and more. Also, buy those Croakies eyewear retainers that wrap around your neck to keep magnifiers and glasses within easy reach.

That's a good idea about the straps for having a magnifier around my neck. I guess it's hard to describe my eyesight. Personally, I don't really regard optometry as a science. I know I have my limitations, but I pretty much do everything that normally sighted people can do. Most of the time I can read med labels, and if not, I usually have my little pocket magnifier with me. I am still able to get things done, it just takes a little bit more creativity. For example, walking into a fast food restaurant where the menus are high up behind the counter, I use my cell phone to take a picture of the menu and then zoom in on it in order to read it.

I appreciate your input, but it is difficult to understand without having the condition. You see, people with albinism don't experience legal blindness in the way that normally sighted people do. Normally sighted people typically experience it in the form of macular degeneration. Because of he lack of pigment in people with albinism, there are retinal nerves that are underdeveloped.

I know of at least one nurse in the albinism community, but have no way to contact her. So, I figured I'd post here to see if anyone else with a visual impairment has any advice on specialties or trips or tricks.

Thanks for the input though guys.

I have been nursing for 18 years with nystagmus related to albinism. I also have never really thought of myself as having a disability. I have worked in both Canada and the US. I also have worked in many areas over my career, including ICU and the ER, most currently paeds. I have never had a problem doing my job, the small accommodations you mention will serve you well. I have never harmed a patient or made an error related to the low vision. There is no reason for you not to succeed in nursing as well.

Thanks bela747, are there any units that are partivularly easier or harder with the eyesight? I imagine maybe telemetry or something like that.

Thanks for the great input though. Which type of albinism do you have? Ocular or oculocuntaneous?

Thanks

OCNRN63, RN

Specializes in Oncology; medical specialty website.

That's a good idea about the straps for having a magnifier around my neck. I guess it's hard to describe my eyesight. Personally, I don't really regard optometry as a science. I know I have my limitations, but I pretty much do everything that normally sighted people can do. Most of the time I can read med labels, and if not, I usually have my little pocket magnifier with me. I am still able to get things done, it just takes a little bit more creativity. For example, walking into a fast food restaurant where the menus are high up behind the counter, I use my cell phone to take a picture of the menu and then zoom in on it in order to read it.

I appreciate your input, but it is difficult to understand without having the condition. You see, people with albinism don't experience legal blindness in the way that normally sighted people do. Normally sighted people typically experience it in the form of macular degeneration. Because of he lack of pigment in people with albinism, there are retinal nerves that are underdeveloped.

I know of at least one nurse in the albinism community, but have no way to contact her. So, I figured I'd post here to see if anyone else with a visual impairment has any advice on specialties or trips or tricks.

Thanks for the input though guys.

The eye is such an intricate organ. You mean you don't think people who deal with treating disorders of the eye aren't scientists? I sure do.

Psychcns

Specializes in Psychiatric Nursing.

You say your vision is 20/200. What is it corrected? you might want to list some visual tasks and note how you would accommodate and decide if the accommodation slows you down too much. I don't know if nursing job descriptions have a vision requirement. If you don't get enough response here maybe post in the management thread. Or the nurses with disabilities thread.

Wow, this has greatly encouraged me. I too have albinism and have about 20/100 vision. I was so anxious about going into nursing, but after working at an ER for a bit as a volunteer and talking to so many nurses, I've realized that I have nothing to worry about. God's grace is sufficient. I have also met another nurse who has 20/200 vision due to albinism and she is an incredibly successful charge nurse. She said her vision has never even been an issue!

Be encouraged that you are not alone, MTtoBSN!

Also, I too have been raised similarly to you, MTtoBSN, in that I have never been allowed to see myself as "disabled." Like you, I know my limitations and I am responsible enough to not go beyond those limitations, but so far from what I've seen there is no reason in the world why we can't be successful as nurses. And perhaps we have something even more unique to offer to patients. I don't know about you, but I have always had a "sixth sense", if you will, due to the lack of vision. It's amazing. I fully believe that no matter what specialty we choose in this field, we will be successful.

I'm a registered nurse with macular degeneration, I've had since I was 13. I have had no issues adapting my work environment to and it has in now way slowed me down. I also have never made any med errors or harmed a patient. As soon as you say what your sight is people start assuming the worst. It is possible if you want it to be. If you find it challenging there are many other areas of nursing that don't require you to works with meds and such. Personally I have fallen in love with oncology! Please feel free to contact me privately if you require any assistance or just need someone to talk to! It is possible!

Thanks Olivia2014, I just may do that! :)

Thank you, all the nurses that have left encouraging comments with real experience for visually impaired people. I am 52 and always wanted to be a nurse but have always been discouraged because my vision is impaired and with only one eye. I finally have started to go to school and hope with all my heart to be a great nurse for the rest of my life. Thank you for posting your experieinces. They have really inspired and encouraged me!

Martina

OCNRN63, I apologize, I wasn't very clear in my initial post. It isn't that I think optometry in it's entirety is not a science, however, their main measurement of what someone's visual acuity is, is in my opinion, extremely flawed and subjective. What I see at 20 feet is how an average person sees at 200 feet? What does that even mean??? (I obviously know what it means, but I'm just making a point that it is higy subjective and non-scientific). I mean, how is someone supposed to determine my functional ability to see by simply asking me to read some letters off of a snellen chart (or some variation of). I have even read research recently that seeks to identify new ways of testing for functional visual acuity to "replace the antequated standards currently in use".

I'm sorry, that was a bit of a rant, I'm not trying to offend or be confrontational. I guess I just get stirred up by labels that don't actually portray a person's functional ability.

I know this is an old post, but I appreciate everyone's response. As an update, I am about to graduate my BSN program (all I have is capstone left) and I am excited to get out into the field.

For the most part, I have been able to perform at or above the level of my peers in the clinical environment. I attribute any of my shortcomings to lack of experience, and for the most part, my vision hasn't had much of a negative impact on my performance.

the only real drawback is that it takes me a tiny bit longer to read things, and I may occasionally require just a tiny bit more one-on-one time when learning a new procedure just to be certain I can safely and competently perform it.

I still think ER would be cools, but since I am unsure if I can keep up with the pace associated with critical patients, I think I'm going to start a new-grad residency on a medsurg floor at one of the nearby hospitals I really like.

Hi everyone,

I am a new BSN grad who is legally blind in one eye. Is it possible to be hired as a nurse. I am so afraid of the rejection i may receive from employers during a new employee physical. Am i overthinking? What are some of the areas i can work in with this impairment?

How did you feeel in clinicals? Did you feel really uncomfortable? If you made it this far, something tells me fhat you will be okay. I am legally blind in both eyes and have been since birth. I have always fiund a way of adapting on my own, and Thiugh I've encountered challenges, the only thing I truly could not do was draw up tiny amounts in small syringes that I've only encountered once in my pediatric rotation in school.

i just got a job on a medsurg floor so we'll see how it goes. It would be a good idea to identify things thar give you trouble and finding ways of adapting. For example, I have a hard time reading small text so I carry a pocket magnifier that works great. I also use surgical loupes for charting and physical assessments (they give me a normal working disrance so I don't have to be so close and up in the patient's face to assess them).

I've been a nurse for 35 years and have lazy eye and only have vision in one eye. I've never had a problem with any work environment. The only thing I've noticed is that I have bad depth perception and I tend to run in to things on my affected side. But my coworkers all know about it and we laugh about it. I've never seen myself as disabled.

MTtoBSN, BSN, Hello I too am an albino with 20/200 vision (with correction). I currently am thinking of going for my CNA and wanted to pick you brain, if possible, with a few questions of my own. How do you successfully deal with taking blood pressure? During my qualification tests i will have to accurately take blood pressure using a aneroid sphygmomanometer; did you use a magnifier? if so what kind? Do you use bioptic glasses or anything of that nature? Do you use a special large print watch when you take vital signs? Thanks for you time.

I too have poor vision. I'm going into mental health nursing and couldn't be more excited. I hope everyone on this thread is having some great experiences! :)

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