The Cost of Vision Therapy
Updated: Jun 28
There is a lot to consider when talking about the "cost" of Vision Therapy, much of it beyond the financial cost, and there are many ways to look at the "costs" of Vision Therapy. First, I'll discuss the financial cost. Then, the personal cost or toll for the individual diagnosed with a condition that can benefit from Vision Therapy exercises. One should also consider the time associated with completing the Vision Therapy process as a cost. We’ll do our best to discuss each here and how they can affect the outcome and true "cost" of Vision Therapy.
The Financial Costs
We’ll begin with the financial cost of Vision Therapy. The financial cost of vision therapy can be difficult for some to understand, this is because, unlike purchasing glasses, there is no tangible good received for the expense. I’ll do my best to explain while being as transparent as possible with what your fee covers and the costs associated with them. As of this writing, the cost of Vision Therapy is usually between $125 and $250 per session. The price is determined by the practice where the therapy is taking place; and has a variety of reasons why it differs. Some practices charge different amounts based on who will be providing therapy sessions. You may see a trained vision therapist, or a doctor, depending on availability. The financial expense per session doesn't just cover the time spent in session though; there is a lot going on "behind the scenes". Most therapy sessions are around 45 minutes to an hour with time set aside for discussing any homework or computer programs to continue therapy at home. Before the patient arrives, the therapist prepares the prescribed activities and reads through the session notes from the previous appointments. During this time, they recognize any modifications needed to make these activities more effective for the set goals for the current session and patient in order for positive progress to be made. In some cases, if a modified activity is required, the doctor may prepare additional training for the therapist to ensure confidence in following the doctor’s requirements. This is individualized for each patient, as each patient’s brain and experience are different and will require individual modifications throughout to adjust. After each session, notes and charts are completed and the doctor is updated in order to determine prescriptions for the next therapy session.
Another financial cost to consider is the equipment and space used during the sessions. Along with the cost of support staff and any other operating costs involved, the space required for therapy can be quite large. The equipment is also highly specialized and usually built specifically for vision therapy. These can be expensive, and the costs are spread across years and multiple patients. Much of this equipment also has maintenance and updates required in order to continue proper use. Also, with so many people handling this equipment, it can sometimes be damaged and need replacement, many of the parts and equipment are plastic or paper/ cardboard and simply wear out over time.
"Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them." William Arthur Ward
There may also be some financial considerations if a patient does not complete the vision therapy exercises. It would be difficult to quantify, but I have personally heard of people who had chosen not to do the therapy and allow their child to live with the diagnosis. In one instance, a child had been in several car accidents in their teens, leading to a very high insurance cost. In addition, this child, having grown up with these issues, was now going to start college soon, knowing they had a vision issue and wanted help, but their parents chose not to do Vision Therapy. In this case, this patient will have to work much harder in school, the information perceived through their eyes will be processed inefficiently, causing added stress and pressure to achieve the grades they hope for.
For some, there is a cost associated with additional tutoring to try to make up for the difficulty they are having in school and studies. These tutors can last for years as a child progresses through their educational career. There may also be expenses made for other types of therapies that may be related to vision, like balance issues, which, if they don’t support the base vision diagnosis, can end up costing more for a longer period. I have read on many Facebook groups (Michelle Hillman's group “Vision Therapy Patients Unite"), stories of parents who decided to do vision therapy first and later find out they no longer needed the other therapies.
There can also be additional costs associated with diagnostics from other specialties as well. We had a patient who always felt like something was off. When we saw him, he was in his teens. He and his parents had been searching for answers to his difficulties, and after several tests with various specialists, their answers were always “He’s fine”. Needless to say, his vision diagnosis was life-changing, it gave him the assurance that he “was not crazy” and that there was something legitimately wrong. Not only that but there was also a way to fix his frustrations. He is one of those success stories that left the program as an extrovert even though all the years of being told he was fine pushed him into this “introverted” mindset, we’ll discuss this more below.
The Personal Toll
Next, we’ll discuss the personal cost or toll for the patient diagnosed with a condition that can benefit from vision therapy. In many ways, this is the most important and least understood “cost” of vision therapy. There are many websites and groups available where you could see the successes of VT. In almost every one of these, you will find writings from parents and patients explaining how vision therapy has changed their lives completely. In our experience, we have seen the same. Many parents describe a child who has completely changed since beginning the vision therapy process. They become more confident, they smile more and in general, are just happier. In most cases, a parent has come to us after receiving a diagnosis from another doctor. They wanted a second opinion, or they are looking for an alternative to having surgery. They have a lot of questions, because “How do you explain what another person sees?” They are not looking through their child's eyes, and so it is sometimes difficult to fully understand. We do our very best to explain and even show you how they “see” or perceive the world around them. We may put prism in front of your eyes or show you examples of what we think they see based on descriptions. We want you to fully understand the diagnoses and just how difficult it can be for someone’s brain to overcome on its own. Oftentimes, these diagnoses’ are developed from a very young age. The patient themselves don’t fully understand that they can perceive more clearly. This doesn’t mean that it’s ok to let it go though, many of the diagnoses make it very difficult for a person to learn in a scholastic environment, for it is thought that 90% of what you perceive comes from your eyes. Think about how you learn in school, reading, watching examples, observing. If that visual information is not being comprehended fully, a student could be missing a lot from their class and struggling to keep up.
Oftentimes, these visual difficulties are diagnosed as learning disabilities, which can make it difficult for a person throughout their entire educational experience. They are sometimes treated differently in school and less may be expected of them. However, many patients experience reading level jumps during vision therapy, and grade improvements simply because the patient is now able to better process the information coming in. This leads to greater confidence and a better overall outlook in life. Some start therapy as an introvert and leave as an extrovert. They gain friendships and improve their attitudes, and reports coming from their teachers show large strides being made. There have descriptions of patients with multiple learning disabilities that disappear after completing vision therapy as well. Remember, we cannot guarantee any of these results, everyone is different and benefits differently from therapy, but if you never try, advancement cannot be achieved.
"Lost time is never found again." – Benjamin Franklin
A Good Use of Time
Finally, I’ll discuss the time associated with vision therapy. I touched on it a bit above, but one should also consider how long it takes to complete vision therapy. Since every patient is different, it is difficult to predetermine exactly how long a patient may require therapy. Driving to the office to perform therapy consumes time, with many requiring therapy multiple times a week. The length of each session in addition to any check-ups throughout the process to ensure progress is being made should also be considered. Completing the requested “homework” for vision therapy can help in limiting how long therapy may take for you to see the benefits. In comparison, before completing Vision Therapy, we have reports from parents that schoolwork takes hours every day; in addition to the time spent arguing over when and how to complete the school-assigned homework. There is also time associated with parent-teacher conferences to discuss scholastic achievement, and the additional time of tutors if needed. Multiply these with the years a child spends receiving their education. Now compare this to the time spent doing vision therapy exercises; and vision therapy can become a very viable, cost-effective solution to many of these problems.
The techniques that one receives during vision therapy, are skills, that whether or not they realize it, the patient is going to use for the rest of their lives. Their new neural pathways and subsequent muscle memory, are going to help their eye teaming, tracking, aiming, and processing as well. This new visual perception is going to allow them to fully experience, comprehend and understand the world around them and help them ultimately to be more successful in life.
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