Do VA Benefits Cover Cataract Surgery?Sight
Comprehensive health coverage is one of the VA (Veterans Affairs) benefits offered to qualifying veterans. This coverage includes diagnostic, preventative, and therapeutic services, including issues related to vision. There are many eye conditions covered by the VA vision benefits, including:
- Loss of vision
- Loss of light perception
- Conjunctivitis-related issues
- Eye injuries
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Retinal dystrophy
- Post-chiasmal disorders
Treatment for cataracts often requires surgery, and cataract surgery is the most common eye surgery performed at the VA.
“Both cataract surgery and correction of vision problems caused by cataract surgery are covered by VA vision benefits, as long as the cause of the cataracts is related to in-service events. If a veteran is diagnosed with cataracts, surgery is the only treatment option, and it is therefore covered.”
Cataracts cause the lens of the eye to become cloudy – it’s been compared to looking through a fogged-up window. This cloudiness can make it harder to drive (particularly at night), read, watch TV, see a loved one’s facial expression, and perform several other daily activities. Cataract surgery removes the cloudy eye lens and replaces it, usually with an artificial lens.
Signs that you may have cataracts can include:
- Clouded, blurred, or dim vision
- Spots of fuzzy vision – like a spot that can’t be blinked away
- Greater difficulty with vision at night
- Increased sensitivity to light and glare
- Seeing “halos” around lights
- More frequent changes in glasses or contact prescription
- Colors may seem faded or more yellow
- One eye may have double vision
If you suspect you have a cataract, it’s important to see your doctor. If you are diagnosed with cataracts, you’ll need surgery to correct the issue, so contact your VA center to get an eye exam to see if you qualify. The VA determines qualification by a schedule of eye ratings (38 CFR § 4.79) as well as measurements for rating eye diseases. The measurements include visual acuity (ability to distinguish shapes/details), visual fields (total area seen, peripheral vision), and muscle function (how well eye muscles move).2 If you have cataracts in both eyes, it’s possible to have one eye qualify but not the other.
Even if the VA denies your initial claim for cataract surgery, or underrates your condition, you can have a VA disability lawyer review your claim to spot areas that could have led to the denial.3
If you are a veteran who has cataracts but have not been able to qualify for cataract surgery coverage from the VA, LSH may be able to help. Cataract surgery is one of the most common eye treatments we help with.
Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation is here to restore the gift of sight and we are always happy to answer your questions and see if you qualify. You can call our office at 800-647-6638.