DEAR HARRIETTE: I have fairly poor eyesight and find myself saying "hello" to people I thought I knew from a distance, only to realize that they are perfect strangers. Should I explain why I greeted them or simply let it be? My daughters beg me to stop halting strangers to explain my eyesight, but I think I owe them an explanation for the confusion. -- Fuzzy Friends, Washington, D.C.
DEAR FUZZY FRIENDS: Step one should be to make an appointment to have your eyes examined. Find out why you have poor eyesight and if there is a way to correct it. Very often, corrective glasses will give you the ability to see clearly, or at least clear enough for basic visual cues. If you have a degenerative eye disease that has permanently damaged your eyesight and made it impossible for you to see well, talk to your doctor about how you can take other steps to help people communicate with you better.
Practically speaking, it is perfectly fine for you to be friendly as you encounter other people. That includes saying "hello." What you should stop doing is believing that you know everyone you see. You can greet people, but keep it general. In this way, you have no need for an apology. If it turns out you know the person, he or she will help you to make that connection.