Getting a new pair of glasses or vision exam isn't always easy on the budget. Many vision care insurance plans are an added premium outside of health insurance plans, and if you simply don't have the money to spend, you may start cutting important issues out of your budget. You may be able to get by without perfect vision, but if you're a veteran, there are a few vision care options that could help you keep an up-to-date vision prescription and maybe even work toward surgery.
The VA Can Help With Vision Care
As of 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) has added a number of services to help veterans in need. As these services are new and evolving, it's understandable that you may be confused by old information. In the past, vision care was limited to veterans with disabilities or veterans who have only been out of the military for two years. This is no longer the case, as a tiered system of benefits can now help most veterans.
Vision care is now part of the larger healthcare benefits package. Veterans with service-connected benefits can enjoy a wide range of vision care assistance from receiving new glasses to signing up for surgery at no financial cost for the veteran.
Veterans who have not been out of the military for longer than 5 years are considered returning servicemembers and are eligible for enhanced healthcare benefits. Although the vision benefits are not as useful as a disabled veteran's benefits, it gives you time to focus on other aspects of your health while evaluating the severity of your vision conditions. You can receive an updated eye exam and a basic pair of frames for your glasses but may need to copay for future glasses depending on your eye exam's results.
If you're in the middle of a VA disability claim, make sure to take advantage of the compensation and pension (C&P) exam. This exam includes a vision test, and can be used to gather any results you need for your disability claim. It's recommended to ask about any health matter that concerns you--big or small--before too much time passes in order to get a good idea of your overall health.
Optometrists Can Help With Your VA Claim
If your vision is affecting you to the point of making work or life in general more difficult, you should apply for VA compensation. The compensation isn't just for veterans who were brutally maimed in combat; any condition that affects your life and was caused by military service can be eligible for compensation.
This includes conditions made worse because of military service. Eyesight gets worse as a fact of life, but specific environments and job requirements could lead to faster vision loss. Unfortunately, the VA C&P exam doesn't cover all facets of vision impairment, such as blurry vision, seeing spots, dizziness or strange color differences that didn't exist before with your eyesight.
A civilian optometrist may be necessary to take a closer look. Because of the long wait times and often hectic nature of the VA, you could have received a basic, somewhat rushed examination that didn't catch everything. The VA understands the need for a second opinion and encourages veterans to look for outside evidence. For more information, contact an optometrist in your area.