The VA Office of Blind Rehabilitation Services reports approximately 1 million veterans with a disabling vision problem affecting their ability to perform daily activities. There are also about 130,000 U.S. veterans who are legally blind. There are numerous eye conditions like central serous choroidopathy that may qualify you for disability benefits.
The VA awards compensation for a wide range of disabilities, including service-related eye conditions. Eye conditions will receive a rating that determines the disability level.
In This Article on VA Ratings for Various Eye Conditions:
- Central Serous Choroidopathy Disability
- VA Examination of Eye Muscle Function
- Incapacitating Episodes
- Eye Condition Ratings
- Other Diagnostic Code 6000 Conditions
- How to Apply for VA Disability Benefits
- No Recovery, No Fee
Central Serous Choroidopathy Disability
Central Serous Choroidopathy is a disease of the eye that results in a build-up of fluid under the retina. The retina is the back portion of the inner eye and is what sends information to the brain for sight. The fluid buildup leaks from the choroid, which is a layer of blood vessels under the retina, and affects your vision.
The exact cause of this condition is unknown. It does occur more frequently in men, and generally around the age of 45. Stress appears to be a contributing factor.
People with aggressive personalities under a large amount of stress are more likely to develop Central Serous Choroidopathy. The choroidopathy symptoms include:
- Objects appearing to be farther away or smaller
- Straight lines appearing distorted
- A blurred or dim blind spot in the center of vision
To diagnose the condition, your medical professional will dilate the eye for the purpose of performing a Fluorescein angiography eye test to confirm the diagnosis. This eye test uses a special dye and camera that allows the examiner to look at the blood flow in the retina and choroid.
Eye drops are administered that dilate your eye. The medical professional will then take photographs of the inside of your eye. They will inject fluorescein die into a vein, generally on the inside of your elbow. As the die moves through the blood vessels behind the eye additional photographs are taken.
This is the same kind of test your eye doctor will use when testing for macular degeneration or a detached retina. Be sure to tell your doctor if you’re allergic to iodine if they prescribe this test. Other than needing sunglasses for the next 12 hours, this test is usually not a big deal.
VA Examination of Eye Muscle Function
The VA examiner uses a Goldmann perimeter chart that identifies the downward, upward, right, and left lateral quadrants of the eye. The examiner charts the diplopia areas and includes the chart in the report of their examination. The diagnosis of diplopia is only assigned to one eye.
If you have both a decrease in visual acuity or defect in the visual field and diplopia, the level of corrected visual acuity is assigned to the more severe eye. Diagnostic code 6000 is Choroidopathy, including uveitis, iritis, cyclitis, and choroiditis.
The ratings are done on the basis of visual impairment or an incapacitating episode. The condition that results in a higher evaluation is the one that the VA will use.
- Incapacitating episodes for a minimum 6 week period within the past 12 months—60%
- Incapacitating episodes for a minimum of 4 weeks but less than 6 weeks within the past 12 months—40%
- Incapacitating episodes for a minimum of 2 weeks but less than 4 weeks within the past 12 months—20%
- Incapacitating episodes for a minimum of 1 week but less than 2 weeks within the past 12 months—10%
The VA considers an incapacitating episode to be a period of time in which you experience extreme symptoms. Those symptoms must be so severe that you are prescribed bed rest and are under the care of a healthcare provider. The benefit is that there will be a medical record of these events. Keep your own notes of your symptoms as well. That way when the C&P Exam comes, you’be able to easly explain how often and how severe you suffer symptoms.
The frequency with which you experience incapacitating episodes is the key factor that the VA uses for deciding the degree of your disability. The more frequently you experience symptoms that knock you out of commission, the more coverage you will receive.
If you have multiple conditions that qualify for a disability, each will be calculated separately. The ratings are combined using VA math. One way of determining your rating is to use a VA disability calculator.
Eye Condition Ratings
The Veteran Affairs Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) rates numerous eye conditions:
- Eye cancer and tumors
- Tuberculosis in the eye
- Eyelash and eyebrow loss
- Conditions affecting the eyelids and tears
- Eye conditions as a result of brain damage
- Nerve conditions
- Lens conditions
- Retinal conditions
- Corneal conditions
- Conjunctive conditions
- Diseases of the eye
- Conditions which affect the eyes visual field
- Vision loss
- Loss of the eye
If the eye condition is not on the above list, it will fall under the rating of a code that holds the best description of the dominant symptom. Eye conditions may result in special monthly compensation if the condition results in blindness in both eyes. It may also qualify for special monthly compensation if the blindness is only one eye in combination with other disabilities.
You may have noticed eyebrows and eyelashes in the list above. That’s right. You can get a 10% VA rating for service-connected loss of your eyebrows. It could be from a scar, burn, stress, or medicine side-effect. Details like this are one example of why you want to work with a VA disability lawyer to make sure you get as many rated disabilities as you deserve.
If you are suffering any conditions of the eye as a result of your duty in the military, give us a call. We have experience in winning disability cases.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers talks about how SMC (Special Monthly Compensation) works to help you get more money for extra expenses related to your disabling condition every month.
Other Diagnostic Code 6000 Conditions
In addition to central serous choroidopathy, VA diagnostic code 6000 covers four other eye conditions.
Uveitis is a type of eye inflammation that affects the middle tissue layer of the uvea, which is the eyewall. Once symptoms of this condition begin they normally progress quickly. This includes pain, blurred vision, and redness in the eyes.
It is possible to have this condition in both eyes (called bilateral) or only one. The condition may become serious, including permanent loss of vision. It is important if you experience any of the symptoms to seek immediate treatment.
- Eye redness
- Eye pain
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision
- Decreased vision
- Floaters—dark floating spots in our field of vision
The reason for the onset of this condition can be an inflammatory disease, autoimmune disease, infection, or injury. There are several types of uveitis:
- Panuveitis—when all layers of the uvea are inflamed from the front to the back of the eye
- Posterior Uveitis—affects the layer on the inside or back of the eye, either the choroid or retina
- Intermediate Uveitis—affects the blood vessels and retina behind the lens, also affects the vitreous, or gel center of the eye
- Anterior uveitis—affecting inside the front of your eye and the ciliary body, also called iritis
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms you should seek medical attention, especially if you are having eye pain and vision problems.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers goes over the questions Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm, is often asked about veterans’ disability claims and appeals.
Iritis affects the front portion of the eye between the iris and the cornea. The colored part of the eye becomes inflamed, and the condition can result in serious problems, including vision loss or blindness.
This condition is a form of Uveitis. This particular issue consists of inflammation of the uvea, which includes the choroid, ciliary body, and iris. It is possible to develop the condition in one or both eyes, and symptoms include:
- Loss of vision
- Red eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Pupil developing an abnormal shape
- Eye pain
- Reduction in vision
There are a variety of factors that can result in this condition, including:
- Reaction to medication
- Injury to the body
- Injury to the eye
- Inflammatory autoimmune disease, including ankylosing spondylitis, sarcoidosis, lupus, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis
- Infection from viruses, fungi, bacteria, or parasites
- Other health problems including Kawasaki syndrome and leukemia
There are many cases in which Iritis develops and the reason can not be determined.
This condition is inflammation of the middle section of your eye, and also affects the muscles that allow your eye to focus. It can develop quickly and can last for several months. Cyclitis is a type of uveitis and the symptoms can be found above under the Uveitis heading.
Choroiditis is when the layer of the eye located behind the retina becomes inflamed. This can be in patches, which is focal choroiditis, or the entire area, which is multifocal choroiditis.
The condition is the result of autoimmune disease or infection. The trigger can sometimes be an infection you had as a child, and the symptoms may not surface for 10 to 20 years later. Symptoms include:
- Distortion of objects
- Impairment of color vision
- Impairment of night vision
- Flashes of light or the sensation of sparks
- Eyes that tear excessively
- Being sensitive to glare or light
- Floating objects in your vision
- Blurry vision
- Pain or redness in the eye
As with any condition of the eye, it is best to see your medical professional for a diagnosis and treatment. If you believe your condition may be the result of your service in the military, schedule a consultation with a veterans disability lawyer.
Remember, you can get VA disability for conditions that are caused by something that happened while you were in the service OR things that showed up while you were enlisted. The cause for these conditions can be stress or infection, so you don’t have to prove something you did caused it. You only have to prove that it was diagnosed while you were a soldier.
The Nexus Letter is like the missing link to a successful VA disability compensation claim. In this video, one of our veteran’s disability lawyers explains the importance of the Nexus Letter.
How to Apply for VA Disability Benefits
When you have a diagnosis of a disability that has a connection to your time in the military, you will want to apply for disability benefits. Here are the steps for applying:
1) Determine if You Are Eligible
To be eligible for compensation you must have been on active duty, active duty training, or inactive duty training and have a service-connected condition with a disability rating. In addition at least one of the following applies:
- You became sick or suffered injuries while serving in the military and your condition links to your service injury or illness
- An illness or injury you had prior to your military service became worse because of your time in the military
- You have a disability that relates to your active duty service that did not appear until after your service was complete
You also have to have left with something besides a dishonorable discharge. There are different ways to leave the military, but check your DD214 for the ‘characterization of service’ to make sure you’re eligible.
If you are eligible, you may proceed with applying.
2) Gather Evidence and Supporting Documents
When you are submitting a VA disability claim you need to provide documentation to support your case.
- VA medical records and hospital records relating to your disability claim
- Private medical and hospital records relating to your disability claim
- Supporting statements from friends, family, clergy members, law enforcement, or fellow service members who can provide information about your condition, how it occurred, and how it got worse
Submit only documentation that supports your disability claim. The more complete your documentation, the better your chance of receiving approval.
3) Additional Forms
Depending on specific factors in your claim, you may need to complete and submit additional forms with your application:
- National Guard and Reserve members must turn in all personnel records and service treatment records from your unit
- If claiming Individual Unemployability you need VA Form 21-8940 and VA Form 21-4192
- When claiming PTSD you need VA Form 21-0781
- When claiming PTSD on personal assault you need VA Form 21-0781a
- If claiming a special home adaption or specially adapted housing you need VA Form 26-4555.
- For an auto allowance, you need VA Form 21-4502
- For an auto-adaptive equipment grant, you will need VA Form 10-1394
- When claiming additional benefits because your spouse or you needs aid and attendance you need VA Form 21-2680
- If you are claiming Dependents you will need VA Form 21-686c, if your dependent is a child between 18-23 in school you will also need VA Form 21-674, and if your dependent is a child with disabilities you will need to submit their private medical records
- To authorize the release of your medical records to VA you will need VA Form 21-2142.
The process of filing a claim application can be timely and frustrating. knowing which additional evidence and documentation you need for specific cases is stressful too. The law office of Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm, helps many vets achieve great results and doesn’t charge you a fee until we win your case.
No Recovery, No Fee
If you are suffering from Central Serous Choroidopathy or any other disability as a result of military service, the law firm of Woods and Woods, The Veterans Firm, can help. We have provided assistance to thousands of veterans and their families.
We never charge for assistance in completing an application. There is never a fee to speak with us, you only pay us if your claim is successful. This is our No Recovery, No Fee policy.
If we win your claim our fee is only 20% of your back pay, plus case expenses such as doctors reports and expert testimony. We never touch your future benefits. We make sure you understand the attorney agreement before you sign.
We invite you to complete the contact form or call us toll-free at (866) 232-5777 to schedule a free consultation. Our goal is to help you receive the benefits you deserve. Call today!
The VA will not want to pyramid on your symptoms, so they will more likely diagnose you with one problem and attribute the other symptoms to that. You want to make sure a VA lawyer looks over what they diagnose, though, so that you don’t miss a rating on all of your conditions.
Yes, each one of these vision-affecting illnesses are rated in conjunction with your vision. The symptoms of redness, swelling, pain, and discomfort are considered right along with your deteriorating vision.