What is offered to veterans with low vision after combat?

Operation Peer SupportIn the United States today there are around 160,000 veterans who are legally blind. When you combine the number of veterans with low vision, this total skyrockets to more than one million veterans with poor visual acuity. In addition, the Department of Defense reports that more than 13 percent of all wounded evacuees from Iraq have a serious eye injury or vision problem. Data show this is the highest percentage documented for any war in America’s history for which an accounting is available.

The VHA Optometry Service
The VHA Optometry Service provides many services to help veterans, including primary eye care and low vision assistance to Visual Impairment Center to the Optimize Remaining Sight (VICTORS) programs and Blind Rehabilitation Centers (BRCs). Helping veterans with visual impairment or blindness maintain independence is an important goal of VHA optometrists. They achieve this goal by goal setting, assessing problems and evaluating all specialized vision devices that are available to help veterans.

Vision loss has a dramatic impact on anyone’s life. Not only are there functional losses such as the ability to read or pay bills, but vision loss affects mobility, causing the person to lose the ability to drive or even take walks in the neighborhood. In addition, for veterans with multiple impairments, vision loss can make them unable to self-medicate with life-saving prescriptions necessary for survival.

During the VHA Optometry Service, optometrists evaluate the veterans’ vision as well as problems with glare and lighting. Then using low vision devices such as hand-held magnifying glasses and prismatic eyeglasses, the veteran may gain an ability to see better, function optimally and live independently again.

Operation Peer Support
Operation Peer Support, a new program of the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), is committed to helping wounded soldiers with the process of recovery after a traumatic event that robbed them of eyesight. The BVA believes that just like the grief experienced after the loss of a loved one, blinded veterans must grieve over their loss of sight. Thus, the veterans attending the Blinded Veteran Association convention are encouraged to meet with other OIF and OEF veterans. It’s thought that war veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam may be among the few who really can relate to the young soldiers being wounded and losing vision in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

While the BVA is committed to helping the younger war veterans in many ways, they said their Field Service Program is the primary way to help service members and their young families during this time.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.