This is a common occurrence and one of the many reasons why relationships can change among family members and friends. It’s helpful if you can learn to communicate with, and educate, your family members, friends, and neighbors about your vision impairment.

To do this, however, you will first need to feel comfortable about sharing information about your vision loss with other people, and this is not always an easy thing to do.

Many individuals with a recently diagnosed vision impairment will attempt to “hide” it from other people, due to embarrassment, shame, or a fear of rejection. Make a plan about how you want to tell your friends and family members about your vision loss – and then go ahead and do it!

If you feel uncomfortable speaking face-to-face, it might be easier to make a telephone call and say, “I value our friendship and I didn’t mean to ignore you today. I haven’t told you, but I’ve lost some vision and I can’t always recognize people I know. It would be helpful to me when we next meet if you could identify yourself so I’m able to recognize your voice.”

Common responses are usually, “Why didn’t you tell me? I didn’t know about your vision loss. We’ve been friends and neighbors for years! I thought you were angry at me. Is there anything I can do to help you?”

In addition to recognizing voices, you can also learn to use other cues to help identify a friend or family member, such as the sound of his or her walk, the smell of perfume or cologne, or the kinds of activities they’re performing, such as a son washing dishes or a daughter using the computer.