August is National Eye-Exam Month and VA encourages all Veterans and their family members to schedule their annual appointments.

VA is highlighting routine eye exams, particularly among senior Veterans.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in adults over the age of 60. It’s a common condition which can blur the sharp, central vision people need for activities like reading and driving.

More than 1 million Veterans have low vision and roughly 130,000 are legally blind.

A collaborative study involving VA researchers discovered a group of HIV medications known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. Those inhibitors may help prevent AMD.

The study was led by the University of Virginia School of Medicine. It included more than 15 medical centers and universities in the U.S. and abroad.

The study included the South Carolina Columbia VA Health Care System with support from its affiliated nonprofit Dorn Research Institute.

33 million patients over 20 years

Investigators looked at data of more than 33 million patients over a 20-year period.

They discovered patients receiving HIV medications — namely as preventive measures against HIV — were roughly 40% less likely to develop dry macular degeneration, the most common form of AMD.

“The database results back genetic findings from the study that explain how the HIV drugs might help protect vision,” said Scott Sutton. Sutton is a VA investigator.

“The results are intriguing and offer promise for a new approach to preventing and treating a disease that affects millions of Veterans and non-Veterans.”

According to the VA Office of Blind Rehabilitation Services, more than 1 million Veterans have low vision, and roughly 130,000 are legally blind. As the Veteran population continues to age, vision impairments such as macular degeneration will increase in prevalence.

Exercise and maintaining blood pressure are effective

Exercise and maintaining blood pressure have been found to be effective in preventing vision loss.

Though hopeful, researchers say further studies and Food and Drug Administration approval will be needed before HIV medications identified in the study can be used to help treat age-related blindness.

Routine eye exams and preventive vision testing are covered under VA health care benefits. Learn more about VA’s Blind Rehabilitation Services.

By Courtesy the VA Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Share this story

Published on Aug. 20, 2021

Estimated reading time is 1.8 min.

Views to date: 357


  1. Marvin G Johnson August 27, 2021 at 4:36 pm

    Have never had any problems getting eye exam. Started with VA optometrists 6 years ago. Then when they lost doctor I was outsourced and been getting appointments for 3 years with no problem.

  2. Richard August 27, 2021 at 2:36 pm

    It’s all an excuse to save MONEY! The VA System is based on Rationed Care, as evidenced by the Phonex debacle a few years ago.

  3. Jim Brewer August 27, 2021 at 11:15 am

    I see a civilian Ophthalmologist. I use Medicare as it is coded as a medical exam. Then I take the prescription to the VA optical shop. Normally have my glasses within three weeks. What you have to watch for are the extra charges. The basic frames and lenses are free. High end frames, tints and transitions lenses are extra. Still not as expensive as optometry stores. I tried to get eye exams at VA, most were a year out. Not sure, but if an exam request exceeds a certain time frame, you may be able to request an appointment from a civilian doctor. That is, if you can find one who will accept VA payment.

  4. ANGELA ALDERSON August 26, 2021 at 8:46 pm

    Need my annual eye exam haven’t had one in 3 years

  5. JOHN E SPENCER August 26, 2021 at 7:49 pm

    You want to get a firm commitment on when you might get your glasses before you waste your time making an appointment. My appointment was June 9th, 2021 and I still haven’t got my glasses. After 8 weeks I called the Wenatchee CBOC to check on them and was told there was a delay call back in 8 more weeks. They gave me the number for the Lab that was making them I called them and was told they just received the prescription on the 8th of August and call back in 2 weeks for a status. I called back on 24 Aug, 2021 and was told that there was a problem with the way the prescription was wrote and it was sent back to Wenatchee CBOC. This is totally unacceptable, what in hell is going on ?

    • william lunsford August 27, 2021 at 1:45 pm

      call the va patient advocate at the va near you. after almost 3 month of not getting any answers other than they will be late, she actually lit a fire under them and i had new glasses in a week. the one that orders glasses in a va contract person. not really caring about anything but pay check!

      • Joseph SCOTT August 29, 2021 at 10:09 pm

        I think that the VA is the WORST GOVERNMENT outfit, they certainly, don’t know how to organize important situations, it’s TYPICAL Military BULLSHT, WITH

  6. Gary August 26, 2021 at 6:57 pm

    Tried to get an eye exam and it’s at least a 2 month wait or more. Why can’t I go to a civilian doctorcc

  7. Jerry C. Heckel August 26, 2021 at 6:02 pm

    Diabetics should be tested every 6 months.

  8. Martin D Barnhart August 26, 2021 at 5:43 pm

    I attempted to schedule an eye exam but couldn’t get through. I’m over due for a Diabetic eye exam. How do I get this done? I live in Rio Rancho, NM.

  9. Gary M Pearson August 20, 2021 at 4:25 pm

    Why is VA not doing eye surgery for cataracts for a year or more. I heard it is because of covid, but these procedures are available and being performed in civilian hostpitals. Thank you, Gary.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Women Veteran enrollment at Dublin VA increased by 20 percent over the last two years. New primary care and Women’s Health clinic will address the growing need for women’s health care.

  • Tennessee Veterans and staff were treated to a Veterans Day concert hosted by Musicians On Call and Wrangler at Alvin C. York VA in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

  • Central Ohio VA employees were invited on stage to tell Veterans about VA health care at the 2022 VetsAid benefit concert.