Everyone has to face at least subtle vision loss, but veterans are in often unpredictably hazardous conditions. Whether it's constant bad lightening in a culture of toughing it out, or being stationed in areas with low visibility and high sand or dust in the air, going to hazardous locations can result in a lot of accelerated wear and tear whether you're involved in combat, rough engineering, or any other military tasks. If you suspect worse vision problems than usual, consider a few past risks and ways an optometrist can help you fix the issue.
Common Military Vision Loss Risks
It's not all about being caught in an explosion. When serving in the military, it's all about knowing your occupational hazards and remembering to bring them up when you leave the military.
Every military base and operation has an occupational hazard briefing. Whether it's getting an appointment with Flight Medicine if you're volunteering for air crew support or being voluntold to join the firefighting and rescue team, your briefing outlines the types of risks you'll be dealing with.
These risks are not just warning labels. You're being rated for your current medical health and being monitored for future problems. Common problems include working in low light conditions such as engineering spaces, night shift communications dark rooms, or desert duty where sand and wind conditions create laceration risks for your eyes.
Laceration risks are a big issue in the post-9/11 warfighter's world. It may sound severe, but many laceration risks are small, subtle, over the time forms of damage that may not be evident until a year or two after leaving the military. Some service members leave the member and get a Veterans Affairs (VA) review that looks fine, only to suffer vision loss 2 or 3 years later.
Often, it's because a non-VA review has more time to spend on your well-being.
Veteran Benefits And Civilian Care
Shortcomings of VA medical care and compensation aren't new, but they seem to fall out of public view every few years. There's no shortage of scandals and performance issues that lead to a lack of care, but you shouldn't give up. Medical care may be better outside of the VA, but you still need VA for lifetime compensation once you have proper proof.
The key is to get proof from a professional who can spend as much time on the process as needed. One issue with VA medical centers is that it's packed with other veterans who both need administrative and emergency assistance. The VA clinics and hospitals are free, but this means you may have to wait months for a possibly rushed appointment.
Instead, get the vision problem proof outside of the VA. A non-VA optometrist can examine your situation, discuss your plans for taking proof to the VA, and help you get the evidence you need in a way that VA medical screeners will understand. From there, you'll have fewer VA backlogs and lines to deal with.
Once you're rated with a vision disability--a percentage that runs a wide range of monetary and services compensation--you can continue avoiding long wait times by submitting your optometrist to the VA as a referral. The VA will cover your future visits.
Contact an optometrist (such as Sheinkopf And Tomasik Eye Associate), bring your military medical records, and get the vision care you deserve.