Should You Tell Your Boss About Your MD Diagnosis?

Have you ever been on the fence about whether or not you should tell your boss about your vision struggles? I’m wrestling with this right now.

Although there’s not a right or wrong answer to this debacle, I’ve found that it is helping me to hash out the pros and cons of each decision.

To tell or not to tell

After working for the same principal for the last 18 years, I have a new boss this school year. I’m finding myself wondering if I should tell him about my severe vision loss or not.

My last principal knew all about the severity of my vision loss. But, honestly, I don’t remember how he found out. I don’t even remember if I sat down with him to formally tell him or, if overtime, he simply noticed that I always sat in the front row at staff meetings and asked for paper copies of presentations.

Reasons to avoid sharing my diagnosis

Any diagnosis is a really personal experience. It can feel scary to tell anyone, let alone someone of authority. When we’re diagnosed, we don’t want to be treated differently. And more than that, at least for me, I don’t want anyone to change their expectations of me.

I can do anything anyone else can do, thank you very much. This part of me doesn’t want my new boss to know there’s ‘something wrong’ with me. Not to mention, anytime I proclaim my diagnosis out loud, it feels a little more real for a while. Sigh, that’s a hard truth of this disease.

But there are still some reasons to explain it

Macular degeneration is often a silent and invisible disease; however, when it wants to rear its ugly head... It will. I worked for my first principal for a very long time. He saw me through my original diagnosis, as well as all of my scary emergency visits (and routine ones) where I needed days off of work.

There was no hiding what was going on with my eyes. I was struggling mentally and I needed to go to appointments. All of the trials and tribulations that accompany a diagnosis of macular degeneration can’t exactly stay hidden.

Balancing work and health

Looking back on it, I guess it wasn’t really any of my boss’s business why I needed days off of work. But, in my heart of hearts, that’s just not who I am. I’m pretty transparent most of the time. It feels safer that way to me and it’s up to each of us to decide what helps us to feel safe in this situation.

Workplace rights

It’s important to mention that employers cannot discriminate against any employee for a medical diagnosis. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t loopholes or avenues around something like that. That can feel terrifying to worry about whether it will be an actual issue or not.

Accommodations in the workplace

Often, when our employers do know about our diagnosis, they can provide accommodations to us when we need them. Do you need your memos to be typed in bold print? Do you need time off of work without question? Do you need a magnifier or different technology in order to be able to see documents more easily? This can be a huge benefit to letting your employer know what’s going on.

I haven’t yet decided how I will tell my new boss about my macular degeneration diagnosis. But, I’ve decided that it’s probably best that he knows. If you’re struggling with this decision right now too, I hope you’re able to do what feels best for your situation.

Andrea Junge

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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