VA Compensation Claims for Glaucoma — Everything You Need To Know
Veterans who have a medical condition that was caused by, or worsened during military service may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) compensates veterans for medical conditions based on the type of injury or disease and its severity. These calculations rely on a specific rating system, and it is not uncommon for application errors to result in improperly-low ratings, or even outright denials.
Glaucoma Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Glaucoma is an eye condition characterized by vision problems and pain. Caused by damage to the optic nerve, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness. Nerve damage in individuals suffering from glaucoma is typically a result of pressure from a buildup of fluid in the eye. Although glaucoma can be hereditary or related to aging, trauma to the eye area can also cause this debilitating condition.
Warning signs often fail to appear until it is too late. Glaucoma develops so gradually that people rarely notice vision problems until the condition has reached an advanced stage. Sadly, glaucoma-related vision loss cannot be recovered. As such, it is important to pay attention to potential early warning signs, especially if you experienced trauma to the head or eye area during military service.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
Although symptoms vary widely in type and severity, the following symptoms may be indicative of glaucoma or another disease of the eye:
- Peripheral blind spots
- Patchy blind spots in central vision
- Blurred vision
- Tunnel vision
- Chronic headaches
- Eye pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- The appearance of halos around light sources
- Redness of the eye
Risk Factors for Developing Glaucoma
As you will notice in the list of risk factors below, certain genetic and health-related traits may predispose individuals to developing glaucoma. However, injury to the eye area is also a common cause. If an in-service event, such as an attack or an explosion, caused or contributed to your glaucoma, you may be able to obtain glaucoma veterans benefits. Risk factors include:
- High internal eye pressure (fluid buildup)
- Being of African or Latin descent
- Being over the age of 60
- Having family members with glaucoma
- Having certain health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, and high blood pressure
- Having thin corneas
- Having suffered an eye injury
- Having had eye surgery
- Long-term or excessive use of corticosteroid medications
VA will review your appeal for glaucoma veterans benefits to determine if there is a possible connection to military service. Consult with a veterans’ disability lawyer to seek the maximum compensation available to you: (888) 392-5392.
Appealing a Denial for Glaucoma Benefits
Do not be discouraged if your initial application for glaucoma benefits was denied, or if you believe your assigned rating was too low. It is your right to appeal the decision. However, the appeal must establish three things—a current diagnosis of glaucoma, an in-service event or onset and a medical link between the two.
A Current Diagnosis of Glaucoma
Your glaucoma diagnosis must be valid and current.
Evidence of an In-Service Event
Can you show that a specific event during your military service (such as an attack or an explosion) is likely to have caused or contributed to your condition or that your condition began during service?
A Nexus Between the Two
There must be a nexus (a link) between the in-service event and your diagnosis of glaucoma.
VA Rates Glaucoma Under the General Rating for Disease of the Eye
In determining your monthly benefit, VA will assign a disability rating, ranging from 0 to 100%. The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations rating criteria for angle-closure and open-angle glaucoma are the same. Per the rating schedule: “Evaluate under the General Rating Formula for Diseases of the Eye. Minimum evaluation if continuous medication is required.”
The General Rating Formula for Diseases of the Eye is as follows:
- 60% rating: “With documented incapacitating episodes requiring 7 or more treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months”
- 40% rating: “With documented incapacitating episodes requiring at least five but less than seven treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months”
- 20% rating: “With documented incapacitating episodes requiring at least three but less than five treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months”
- 10% rating: “With documented incapacitating episodes requiring at least one but less than three treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months”
There are several different rating criteria for visual impairment depending on the type of impairment.
Monthly Benefits Based on Your Assigned Rating
Below are the 2019 veterans disability rates for glaucoma for a single veteran with no dependents:
- 60% disability rating: $1,131.68 per month
- 30% disability rating: $435.69 per month
- 10% disability rating: $142.29 per month
- 0% disability rating: $0 per month
A VA Disability Lawyer Will Seek Maximum Compensation for Service-Related Glaucoma
If military service caused or contributed to your glaucoma diagnosis, you may be entitled to receive benefits for your injury. Vision problems can have a severely negative impact on a person’s life, affecting the ability to complete even the simplest tasks. Conditions such as glaucoma can also have serious psychological consequences, such as depression.
Obtaining benefits for your injury can be difficult, but you are not alone. A veterans’ disability attorney will fight to get you the compensation you deserve in a timely manner.
Get veterans’ disability legal help today. Call for a free consultation.