A common but less reported combat injury from both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars is eye trauma. Often, eye injuries occur because of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or any type of detonating mechanism. From 2001 to 2011, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) saw over 97,500 new veteran eye injuries related to military service in their VA health system—approximately 9,000 were retinal injuries, over 4,800 were burn injuries, and over 1,200 were optic nerve injuries.
If you suffered a service-connected eye injury or have a secondary eye condition or disease that resulted from your time in the military and are seeking disability benefits from the VA, you’ll likely need to first complete a Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam. This is a medical exam ordered by the VA to evaluate the severity of your eye condition and help determine a VA rating.
Why a C&P Exam Is Required?
Although many veterans who file a claim for VA disability benefits may be required to complete a C&P exam for eyes, not all will need to take one. If you and your doctor have supplied enough evidence in your medical record to prove your disability, the VA may not ask you to take this exam. However, if there is missing or incomplete information, the C&P exam for eyes will help fill in gaps to ensure that there’s enough evidence for your claim to be processed. In general, the VA might require you to have a C&P exam for one of the following reasons:
- Your medical evaluation was performed by an independent doctor.
- The VA needs to diagnose or confirm that you have a disability.
- The VA needs to establish a timeframe for the onset of your symptoms.
- The VA wants to determine the severity of your symptoms.
- The VA wants to determine if you are being honest about your disability.
What Happens at a C&P Exam for Eyes?
The C&P exam is not like a physical or exam with your regular doctor. No treatment or medication will be prescribed by the examiner, and the appointment may be much shorter. At the C&P exam, the examiner will review your medical records and ask you questions about what’s in your file, as well as:
- Ask you direct questions about your health and symptoms
- Observe your behavior, attitude, and demeanor as they relate to your disability
- Perform a partial, less extensive physical exam
How to Prepare for a C&P Eye Exam
Once you’ve been scheduled for a C&P exam, there are some important steps to take to prepare for the exam to help ensure you receive all the compensation you deserve. These steps include:
- Document your symptoms in a daily journal. You should describe all the pain you feel, the symptoms you experience, and how the injury impacts your life. For example, if your eye injury has made it difficult for you to drive or you experience blurry vision that interferes with your ability to work, you should record these in detail. Be sure to bring this information to your exam.
- Ask a spouse or a close friend to accompany you. It’s helpful to have a person who knows you well attend the exam. Because they witness the difficulty you face, they can provide clarity about your situation, add details about what you deal with because of your eye injury, and discuss the daily suffering you experience. You will likely need the examiner’s approval to allow this person to be with you during the exam.
- Bring new documents or updated medical evidence. If you have new documents, updated medical test results, or other reports you haven’t yet sent to the VA, it’s important to bring them with you. Because they likely won’t be in your claims folder, having copies of them can help your disability claim.
- Prepare for the questions you may be asked. During the exam, the objective is to ensure that the examiner understands the full extent of your eye condition. Because you want to detail all your symptoms and explain how they impact your life, consider bringing a copy of your disability benefits questionnaire (DBQ) to the exam. The DBQ can be used as a guide to help you remember details and aspects of your condition that may not immediately come to mind during the exam.
Call Our VA Disability Lawyers for Service-Connected Eye Conditions
If you suffer from a service-connected eye injury or believe yours is a secondary eye condition brought on by a service-connected disease or illness, you may qualify for disability benefits. Let our VA disability lawyers assist you in determining if you’re eligible. Our VA disability lawyers have been supporting veterans for years, and we will help you document your eye injury or eye disorder and work with your treating medical providers to describe the full extent of your limitations. We know exactly how much these disability benefits mean to you. If we accept your case, we will take all steps within the law to help you get them. If your eye injury is making it impossible for you to work, contact our VA disability law firm to speak with an intake specialist for free.