The three most common injuries faced by service personnel on active duty in the military are hearing loss, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Fourth on that list is eye injuries and vision disorders. According to the Department of Defense (DOD), from 2000 to 2010, there were more than 186,500 eye injuries in military medical facilities worldwide. The DOD spends nearly $2.3 billion on eye injuries each year. In 2019, over 250,000 veterans received some type of benefit or care from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for eye injuries or eye disorders.
A primary cause of eye injuries in service personnel is Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), also called road-side bombs. In 2007, Stefan Duma, Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering Director at the Center for Injury Biomechanics at Virginia Tech, said he believed eye injuries were increasing in the military because of IEDs. “There are more explosive devices and fewer bullet injuries,” he said. “You get a lot more fragments and shrapnel and a lot more eye injuries with those.”
If you suffered an eye injury or now have a vision disorder as a result of your time in service, you may be eligible for disability benefits from the VA, and our experienced Omaha VA disability attorneys can help.
Qualifying Eye Injuries
Since WWII, eye injuries have been on the rise, and the Iraq War was responsible for eye injuries in 15% of veterans. Although servicemen and women are outfitted with protective gear, their eyes are often still exposed. Most eye injuries that are eligible for disability benefits occur due to direct penetration. This can happen from gunfire, shrapnel, and bomb fragments.
To qualify for disability benefits, you must connect your injury or eye condition to your military service. The following provides a general overview of compensable injuries:
- Any eye injury that occurs while you’re in service and causes permanent or chronic damage may be eligible for benefits.
- Any eye illness or condition that presents or is diagnosed during active duty, even if it’s not the result of your military service, may be eligible.
- Acute eye injuries that get treated and are resolved are not eligible for disability benefits unless the condition returns or is considered to be in remission.
- Any eye injury as a result of an “interior injury” or one that was caused due to some type of damage to the brain may be eligible. Although the eye does not sustain direct penetration, vision is impaired because the brain area controlling eye function is damaged. Visual impairment is often common after a traumatic brain injury (TBI). When an IED detonates, it has enough force to cause trauma by shaking the brain back and forth within the skull. It can also force shrapnel or other objects to penetrate the skull. Many thousands of veterans have suffered visual impairment due to a TBI. The shockwave from IEDs can also cause corneal and cataract swelling, as well as retinal detachment.
Call Our Omaha VA Disability Attorneys for Service-Connected Eye Conditions
If you suffer from service-connected eye injuries, you may qualify for disability benefits. Let Cuddigan Law assist you in determining if you’re eligible. Our experienced Omaha VA disability attorneys 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 an eye injury you received during military service is making it impossible for you to work, contact Cuddigan Law to speak with an intake specialist for free.