What Are Cataracts And How To Get a VA Disability Rating For This Condition


What are Cataracts?

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. For someone with cataracts, seeing through their eye is like looking through a foggy window. Most cataracts develop slowly and don’t initially disturb eye sight, but overtime cataracts will eventually interfere with vision. Symptoms of cataracts includes:

  • Clouded, blurred, or dim vision
  • Increasing difficulty with vision at night
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Need for brighter light for reading and other activities
  • Seeing “halos” around lights
  • Frequent changed in eyeglasses or contacts prescription
  • Fading or yellowing of colors
  • Double vision in a single eye

Cataracts is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide and can be extremely debilitating if untreated. There are several types of cataracts include: age-related cataracts, congenital cataracts, traumatic cataracts, and secondary cataracts.

How to Get VA Disability Rating?

Generally speaking, veterans must show evidence of a current diagnosis, an in-service event, and a medical link between the two. It is also possible for veterans to receive service connection for cataracts on a secondary basis.

Diabetes Mellitus Type II and Cataracts

Due to the nature of diabetes mellitus type II, complication can develop that warrant separate ratings on a secondary basis. Secondary conditions must be at least as likely as not cause or aggravated by the already service-connected diabetes. Research has consistently shown that cataracts is closely connected with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association found that diabetes increased the risk of cataracts by 60% or more.

In the past, the VA has conceded that cataracts are directly related to diabetes. Prior to 2005, the VA was required to consider cataracts as a result of the diabetes mellitus type II, unless shown to be of other origin. This provision was rescinded and in the updated version, it states that complications of diabetes “may” include cataracts. This means that the VA does not have to automatically grant service connection.

How are Cataracts Rated?

Cataracts are evaluated under the diagnostic code for the eye. If surgery has not been performed, cataracts are rated under the general rating code for the eye on the basis of either visual impairment or incapacitating episodes.

Rating Symptoms
60% Documented incapacitating episodes requiring 7 or more treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months
40% Documented incapacitating episodes requiring at least 5 but no more than 7 treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months
20% Documented incapacitating episodes requiring at least 3 but less than 5 treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months
10% Documented incapacitating episodes requiring at least 1 but less than 3 treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months

If surgery has been performed, cataracts are still rated based on the same code, but it may vary depending on the outcome of the surgery. If a replacement lens is present, cataracts are rated under the usual rating code. But if there is no replacement lens present, the condition is evaluated based on aphakia.

Veterans Help Group have been supporting veterans in getting the benefits they deserve since 1995. If you or a loved one served, and suffer from cataracts, we are here to help. Call Veterans Help Group at 855-855-8992 or complete our free veterans benefits case evaluation form.


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