Does Macular Degeneration Qualify Me for Veterans Benefits?

Vision problems are one of the many reasons people apply for disability. Macular degeneration, or MD, is a leading cause of vision loss for people over the age of 50, and for people in the US. It’s most common in people over 60. It’s also called “age-related macular degeneration,” or AMD.

Does Macular Degeneration Qualify Me for Veterans Benefits?

As a veteran, you may also experience this condition as well as other vision problems. MD can make everyday life difficult, including driving, working, reading, and seeing what’s right in front of you. If you notice that you are having a difficult time seeing things the way you did before, you may be overdue for an eye exam.

What Is Macular Degeneration?

The macula is a part of the retina in the back of the eye, in the center. That means a person with macular degeneration loses their central vision, but not their peripheral. For instance, when you look directly at a clock, you may see the numbers but not the hands.

Most people don’t completely lose their vision, but simply don’t see what’s right in front of them. In other cases, the vision loss is mild.

There are two types of MD:

  • Dry, the most common type, roughly 80% of the cases, where the macula itself thins considerably leading to the growth of tiny clumps of protein, called drusen
  • Wet, less common but more serious type, where new blood vessels begin growing under the retina and leak fluid into the eye.

Smoking, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other risk factors contribute to MD’s development.

MD comes on slowly, and most people don’t realize they have it until they begin having blurring. There isn’t a “cure” for MD, and dry doesn’t yet have a full treatment. Regular ophthalmologist visits can detect it early and help manage if you do develop MD.

What Does The VA Say?

For many years, the VA didn’t recognize macular degeneration as a disability. Fortunately, that has since changed, allowing veterans with MD to seek treatment and receive benefits.

The VA puts MD into the Schedule of Ratings as “Organs of Special Sense.” They use these three tools as the basis for determining your eye problems and the impact of MD on your sight:

  1. Central acuity, or the ability to distinguish details and shapes at a distance using an eye chart
  2. Visual field, or everything you can see when staring ahead at a fixed point
  3. Muscle dysfunction, or how well the eye moves around to pick up sight

As with any condition you present to the VA, you’ll need to show MD as a service-related condition (primary or secondary), or provide proof from a physician of the connection.

The C&P Exam

The VA will also require you to take a Compensation and Pension exam, or C&P. This exam determines the degree of your disability and the rating for a disability, and determining the service connection.

The VA requires you to undergo an exam by either a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. You’ll also need to provide:

  • A current diagnosis for your eye condition
  • Evidence of an in-service event, illness, or injury that’s related to your condition
  • A “nexus letter” from a physician that connects the current eye condition to an in-service event, illness, or injury

All of these show a direct service connection. However, a secondary service connection is also possible. An existing illness or medication is taken for a different service connection may also cause or aggravate MD as a secondary condition. They can include:

  • Strokes
  • Diabetes
  • Lyme disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

If you already qualify for healthcare through the VA, you can also obtain these eye exams and diagnoses from the VA as well. This includes testing for conditions like glaucoma.

Macular degeneration is a relatively newly rated condition under the VA’s disability rules. Getting help from an experienced disability attorney can go a long way in making sure your application is done correctly.

Let Herren Law Assist You With The VA For Macular Degeneration

If you’re a veteran with vision issues including macular degeneration, you can apply for and receive VA benefits for this condition. Should the VA either deny or under-rate your condition, it’s time to get help and increase your chances of success.

Call the Herren Law Firm today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation. Our attorneys are experienced in helping veterans successfully navigate through the application and appeals process, and we can help you too. Our contingency fee means you won’t have to pay until you start receiving benefits.



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