Close Menu

Vision Loss

An individual with vision loss could have a limited visual field, be unable to distinguish colors, have limitations after nightfall, be photosensitive, have low vision, or have progressive vision loss. Individuals with vision loss experience some degree of difficulty seeing even with the use of corrective lenses. Some individuals with vision loss may have usable vision remaining, while others may be unable to see at all. Vision loss is generally the result of errors of refraction, diseases of the eye, and other vision-related conditions. Accommodations may include the use of accessible materials, magnification, and text-to-speech technologies.

  • Limited Visual Field

    Visual field deficits result in a limited visual field. These cannot usually be be fixed with glasses or surgery. Field loss can be described as a scotoma (a blind spot), hemanopsia (half of the field is missing in one or both eyes), or tunnel vision (the field is constricted to central vision). Visual field refers to the total area that is visible to a person while looking at a fixed central point. Individuals with conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, and cataracts may experience limited field of vision. This can impact both peripheral and central vision. Employees with visual field loss may have difficulty navigating around obstacles in the workplace, and may need accommodations to assist with wayfinding and mobility.

    Read more about Limited Visual Field
  • Color Vision Deficiency (Color Blindness)

    Color Vision Deficiency (CVD) is the inability to distinguish between some colors and shades. Most people with this condition can identify some colors. Few people are totally "color blind." Color filters, such as a special red contact lens worn on one eye or prescription glasses may be used to help some people with a color deficiency. In addition, talking products are available that will scan a color and announce a description of the color (originally designed for individuals who are blind).

    Read more about Color Vision Deficiency (Color Blindness)
  • Night Blindness

    Individuals with night blindness do not see well at night or in areas with low levels of light such as dark rooms and or heavily shaded areas. Some individuals may also have a slower adjustment to a change in light conditions.  Nyctalopia is a medical term that may be used to describe night blindness. Driving at night, working outside at night and working in areas with low levels of light may prove challenging for an individual with night blindness.

    Read more about Night Blindness
  • Photosensitivity

    There are many individuals who are sensitive to light, commonly referred to as photosensitivity. There are many different medical conditions or medications that can trigger photosensitivity, and problematic types of lighting may differ depending on the individual and their medical condition. Regardless of the cause of the reaction, individuals who experience photosensitivity may need accommodations to maintain or increase their productivity at work. Accommodations come in a variety of solutions for a specific limitation. See below for some ideas to help you get started.

    • Performing Outdoor Tasks: When individuals who are photosensitive need to perform essential functions outdoors, accommodations that employers may consider include: providing flexible schedules to avoid peak sun hours; providing UV protection clothing/accessories; allowing frequent rest breaks indoors or in shaded areas; combining tasks to limit exposures; limiting exposure to water, ice, and other highly reflective surfaces; and allowing flexible leave around low-ozone and sun-flare events.
    • Performing Driving Tasks: Whether an individual spends the entire work day in a vehicle or just part of the day, this UV exposure can prove problematic for individuals with photosensitivity. To address this issue, an employer may consider providing the following accommodations: allowing telework or flexible work schedules to avoid peak sun exposure, providing window tinting and shades on work vehicles, allowing frequent breaks indoors, and modifying dress code policies to allow UV protection clothing/accessories.
    • Performing Indoor Tasks: While it may seem like individuals who are photosensitive would be able to easily work indoors, there are many hidden UV light sources that may need to be eliminated or avoided. Examples of accommodations that may help include: providing alternate lighting, UV light filters, sheltered work spaces, UV protection clothing/accessories, and UV filtered computer screens; allowing telework or flexible work schedules to avoid peak sun exposure; and avoiding water, ice, and highly reflective surfaces around unavoidable UV sources.
    • Office Setting:
      • Consider allowing telework for some or all of the week so that the employee may work in a setting where he or she can more easily control lighting.
      • Consider use of floor to ceiling cubicle walls so that fluorescent light is blocked from reaching the employee's work station.  Other options to block out overhead lighting include an office with a door, a cubicle roof or even a patio umbrella installed over one's desk.
      • Consider installing filters in fluorescent light fixtures to reduce the negative effects of fluorescent lights. Turning off overhead lights and using lamps may allow more control over lighting especially for employees who need to work in dim light.
      • Consider use of full spectrum lighting to supplement natural light near employee's workstation if the individual does better with natural or full spectrum light.  If the individual is sensitive to full spectrum, natural light, or UV, consider other options.
      • For individuals who are sensitive to flickering, consider use of alternative lighting such as incandescent or LED lighting.
      • Consider modifying dress code to allow employee to wear items that may be helpful in reducing the effects of fluorescent light such as sunglasses or hats with brims.
      • Explore accommodations to enhance concentration such as reducing background noise or allowing employee to listen to music through headphones while working.
      • If the person does better with natural light, try to place them near a window.
      • If the person needs more control over the light in their workspace or is sensitive to UV, windows can be problematic.  Consider moving the person away from windows or installing appropriate window coverings.    

    Read more about Photosensitivity
  • Low Vision

    The term "low vision" is usually used to describe the experience of having a vision impairment that cannot be corrected and which interferes with daily activities. Individuals who meet that standard for legal blindness sometimes identify as having low vision.  Individuals with low vision typically use a variety of strategies and assistive technologies to access information and to perform daily tasks.  Magnification is often beneficial to individuals with low vision, but the degree of magnification needed varies.  Individuals with low vision may also use many of the technologies used by or designed for individuals who are blind.

    Read more about Low Vision
  • Progressive Vision Loss

    Progressive vision loss is a term used to describe vision loss that gets worse over time. As the vision loss progresses, different solutions may be needed. Magnification may be replaced with text-to-speech or Braille solutions as vision declines. Depending on the individual’s preferences and the nature and degree of their vision loss, solutions designed for individuals who are blind may be appropriate. It is usually painless, but can be central or peripheral and may be worse for far or near signtedness. It is usually bilateral, but this differs depending on the individual.

    Read more about Progressive Vision Loss