Optic neuritis and work


I’ve been diagnosed with optic neuritis and have had it for about four and a half weeks. It’s a mild case and I’m lucky in that it is beginning to show signs of improvement. When I’m at home in the evenings, in the lower light, it’s not too bad really. I am still struggling during the day though. I work on computers under very bright lighting and I’m getting lots of visual disturbance. I find I’m squinting a bit as well which is making me so tired, and I’m pretty useless in the evening - not ideal when you’ve got a family and trying to revise for an upcoming exam.

I’ve closed the blind behind me and reduced the brightness on my screens which has helped a bit. I’ve asked about the overhead lighting and it doesn’t sound like there’s much that can be done because of the type of system it is.

Does anyone know if work are under a duty to help me? My boss has let me work at home often which has helped but my job needs me to be in the office more often than not really. Sunglasses have really helped at home but I’m too embarrassed to wear sunglasses at work!

I’ve seen a neuro and I’m currently waiting for my MRI referral now.


When I had O.N. ten years ago I found that wearing an eye-patch helped.

I think my brain was getting two conflicting images due to the scrambled signals it was getting from the bad eye.

It also came in handy when the grandchildren came for the weekend because we could play Pirates.



Thanks John :slight_smile:

I did try an eye patch for a little while but I just couldn’t get on with it. Which is a shame because a game of pirates could have been a laugh!

The fluorescent light directly above my desk has just been removed and I think it’s going to be a lot better. Finger crossed.


That sounds horrid. I am sorry that you are having such an unpleasant and worrying time. It is good to hear that your eyes are on the mend and I hope that remaining vision trouble resolves soon.

You are right that an employer is obliged to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to help employees manage around their disability so that they can do their jobs despite the disability and stay in work. Are you ‘disabled’ under the meaning of the Equality Act 2010? I’m not sure whether you currently pass the test of your impairment caused by ON being both ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’. Others might be better informed.

Those of us with an MS diagnosis are automatically considered ‘disabled’ under the Act - we share that doubtful privilege with people who have had a diagnosis of cancer or HIV. That I very much hope that you do not join this merry club goes without saying, but, if you do, automatic coverage under the Equality Act 2010 for the purposes of disability discrimination might be a small consolation prize. OK, so it wouldn’t really, would it?

But that’s all way down the line and won’t happen, with a bit of luck. The important thing now is to address the immediate problem that is being made harder to deal with by over-bright lighting at your workstation. My personal view is that your employers ought to jolly well find a way to help you. There is a difference between ‘it can’t be done’ and ‘it would be a mild pain in the arse to do, and we can’t be bothered’. If they are saying the latter, then I think they need a bit of a poke in the eye, if you will forgive the expression. Do you have an Occupational Health department at work? If so, talk to them - they should be clued up on employer best practice - by which I mean ‘how to be a decent employer and not a knob’ - regardless of whether you are technically disabled or not. They should know more about that than the typical overworked line boss. Ditto HR, another potential ally in the matter of helping you to do your job despite your eyes being wonky. What do they want you to do, go off sick when there’s no need?

In the meantime, take your sunglasses to work and wear them. It shows willing (always good) and also makes the point a bit (always good also). If you are feeling bashful, stick a notice on the back of your chair to say ‘I’m wearing these for my eyes, not because I’m an idiot’.

Good luck.


Hi Alison

Thanks for your message :slight_smile:

I’m pretty sure my ON wouldn’t be caught under the Equality Act because of its transient nature (all going well!). The first person I spoke to at work seemed to be more of the ‘it’s a pain in the arse’ school of thought but thankfully his boss (not a knob haha) felt differently and someone came along and removed the strip light above my desk this afternoon. I won’t know until tomorrow if it will be better but it certainly can’t make it worse.

I was quite happily wearing my sunglasses indoor all day long until my husband started calling me Beyonce!!

Your message made me laugh!


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And your comment made me happy!

I am glad that someone at work has come up with a low-tech but sensible way to deal with the light.