You may qualify for vision care benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) if you have a diagnosed visual impairment. Glaucoma and low vision are just two examples of eye diseases that may qualify you for eye care services through the VA. Below we provide brief descriptions of the vision care benefits you may be eligible to receive as a disabled veteran.
Routine Eye Examinations and Preventive Care
The Department of Veterans Affairs will pay for basic optometry services such as your annual vision care exam. You must already have VA healthcare benefits to receive these benefits. Eye care services covered by the VA also include preventive vision care services, including testing for glaucoma. You can find a participating optometrist or ophthalmologist by contacting the nearest VA office. Additionally, you can receive visual rehabilitation or more advanced eye care services if you are blind or have low vision.
Free Eyeglasses for Veterans Who Meet Certain Criteria
Perhaps you have heard that the VA provides free eyeglasses to veterans but wonder if that is actually possible. According to information on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, veterans may receive free eyeglasses if they meet at least one of the following criteria:
- You received an increased pension from the VA because you are housebound permanently and in need of regular aid.
- You have a compensable service-related disability. Your disability need not be related to eye conditions.
- You received a Purple Heart award while on active duty military service.
- You served time as a Prisoner of War.
- You currently receive benefits for a disability caused by medical malpractice in a VHA medical center. Title 38 of the United States Code 1151 explains these payments in more detail.
The Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes that eyeglasses can be expensive. This is especially true for veterans who require a specialized pair to compensate for one or more eye conditions. For this reason, you may still qualify for free eyeglasses even if you do not meet one of the above criteria. However, you must have at least one of the eye health issues listed below.
You have visual problems caused by an illness or injury for which you currently receive treatment at a VA medical center. Your condition may have also developed due to the treatment you have received for it through the VHA. Examples of qualifying health conditions include:
- geriatric chronic illness
- multiple sclerosis
- vascular disease
Examples of qualifying injuries include:
- Cataract surgery
- Cognitive impairment
- Functional impairment, which means that some parts of your body don’t function like they should
- Other eye surgeries and surgeries of the brain, ears, or eyes
- Polytrauma, which refers to significant injuries to one or more parts of the body
- Traumatic brain injury
- Vision or hearing loss significant enough to make it challenging for you to manage your own healthcare
The VA updated its rating schedule for eye conditions in 2018. It also added diabetic retinopathy, post-chiasmal disorders, and retinal dystrophy.
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