When I discovered that Vision Therapy could potentially treat my strabismus, my first question was to find out exactly how much it was going to cost. Here is what I found.
So how much does Vision Therapy Cost? On average, Vision Therapy costs $322 for the initial consultation and $122 per weekly appointment after that. Most patients need an average of 20-30 visits, making the average grand total $2762-$3982.
I personally called Vision Therapy companies in all 50 states to figure out some national averages. The initial consultation represents the comprehensive testing and consultation before therapy starts. Appointments range from 30-60 minutes so I based these numbers off of the average of 45 minutes. (My degree in Math Education is coming in handy!)
|Location||Initial Consultation||Weekly Appointment (45min)|
You can call any Vision Therapy office and, with enough persistence, they will tell you the cost of a consultation and appointment. But the question that we really need to answer is how many appointments will this take and how will I pay for it? Let’s take a look at the answers.
Note: I have now been in therapy for a few years and you can read all about the process and progress I have made over HERE. If you want help determining a great office and whether you are a good candidate for therapy, you can schedule a zoom consult with me. Learn more HERE.
How to Determine The Cost of Vision Therapy
First, call the Vision Therapy office you have chosen and ask for their prices. Maybe they will volunteer the information freely, maybe you will have to dig a little, but this should be pretty simple.
Some clinics are very secretive about the money which is so weird to me. The more established, reputable offices had no problem letting me know the financial commitment involved. Maybe they were just more confident.
Once you know the basic costs, you need to estimate the total number of visits that you are going to need.
The number of visits varies depending on your specific condition, but you can count on 12 visits as the minimum.
Some conditions require the use of corrective glasses, patching, or prisms before therapy even begins so these numbers don’t represent a start to finish time, just the recommended visits for specific conditions.
They are Based on the textbook many Developmental and Behavioral Optometrists practice from, The Clinical Management of Binocular Vision, here are some specific ranges that I found in the book:
|Diagnosis||Number of Visits|
|Fusional Vergence dysfunction||12-24|
If you don’t know what your specific diagnosis is or if yours isn’t on this list of gibberish, welcome to the club. We can still make a pretty good guess if you have some general ideas about your condition.
If you have 3D vision, but have trouble with near reading or just intermittent issues with vision, you will probably be in the 12-24 visits range depending on the severity. These condition are very treatable and some can even be treated at home. Most of the people doing vision therapy to help with reading and school related issues are in this group
If you have intermittent stereopsis (3D vision and depth perception), but can force your eyes to see together, you are going to be in the 24-40 week range. This would also include people with several issues combined.
If you have two eyes that work independently with no stereopsis, you are like me, and you better get a crowbar in your wallet, because it could take years of vision therapy.
I have strabismus, my exact diagnosis is Monocular Exotropia. No matter how hard I try, I cannot force both of my eyes to “see” together. I can make one or the other see, but stereopsis and depth perception are distant dreams for me. The textbook recommendation for me is 32-40 weeks of therapy, but when I ask around, there are different experiences.
Some people with mild strabismus are able to reach stereopsis in the 32-40 visits, others aren’t so lucky.
Most people with strabismus seem to be taking more like 1-2 years to get to their maximum result with vision therapy. Many will do 6 months of therapy, then break for a few months before starting another round.
Most people have a combination of these diagnosis so the textbook answers seem really low. If you have multiple conditions it will increase the recommended time in Vision Therapy.
For multiple diagnosis, you take the whole amount for the first diagnosis and then cut the number of weeks for the next diagnosis in half and add it all together.
So let’s assume you have convergence insufficiency (CI) and Exophoria (I am not a doctor so I technically don’t know if that’s possible).
For numbers sake, let’s just say you would need 18 visits for CI and 20 for Exophoria, if you had one or the other. But, since you have both, your total would be 18 for CI plus 10 for Exphoria, so 28 total as an estimate.
Remember these are all estimates, there is no way anyone can know exactly how many visits you will need, not even your doctor. You can make a great educated guess and your doctor will make a better one, but the only way to find out is to jump in and start therapy and see how far you get.
Maybe you will get to visit 8 and be miraculously better. Hopefully, you aren’t like my friend from England who went through 5 rounds of therapy totaling up to about $40,000.
You might even be one of the lucky ones who can achieve success with home therapy and really save the money. A huge part of the equation is how dedicated you are with home therapy.
Do the Math
Just in case you have questions on how to actually estimate how much it’s going to cost, here is a simple equation:
Initial consultation Price + (Number of Weeks x Price per Session)
So for me, My initial consultation is $150, my visits are $135 and I need 32-40 visits.
My low-end estimate would be 150 + 135 x 32 = $4470
The high-end estimate would be $150 + $135 x 40 = $5550
Options for Paying for Vision Therapy
No matter how small the case, vision therapy is so expensive! It’s important to make a game plan for paying for it. Here are 6 things to consider and try:
- Say a prayer, then call your major medical insurance provider and find out if they cover Vision Therapy. Sometimes it is referred to as visual exercises or Orthoptics. Many times the insurance will cover the initial evaluation but not the weekly visits. Many times it depends on the diagnosis and age (they totally discriminate against older people). I have a whole post about the ins and outs of insurance for vision therapy here.
- If you are like the majority, your insurance, unfortunately, won’t cover Vision Therapy. You can submit a “request for review” to your insurance company to possibly overturn their decision. Maybe if enough of us do it, we can change the world! You can find details about that process in my insurance article.
- Many companies offer a 10-20% discount if you pay in advance. I’m not interested in paying for 32 visits up front, because who knows if I will need them all. Offer to pay for 5 sessions in advance to receive the same discount. You can also set up alternative plans to go in less often with more at-home therapy. This could potentially increase the overall time, but decrease the overall money paid out.
- If you are considering vision therapy for your child, check your state’s Department of Education “Parent IEP handbook.” If you can show that your child’s vision is impairing their ability to progress in school, you could get part of the treatment covered by the state. California has legislation passed and states like Maryland and Utah are working on it. Check out the Facebook page LTSC for an example of one mom who is working on getting legislation passed, go get ’em Cat!
- If you try the first four and come up empty handed, you can put it all on a credit card (think of all the airline miles!!) or deplete your savings and just fork over the money. Make sure you make good use of your work flexible spending account if this is your option. You will save an extra 10-20% if you pay for the therapy with pre-tax dollars.
- I’m not interested in debt, or depleting our savings so I am taking the totally reckless option number 6 and attempting therapy on my own for a bit. I still have regular appointments (every 4-6 weeks) with the vision therapist but I’m doing the first, less intensive half of my therapy at home. And yes, I’m seeing progress.
Is Vision Therapy Worth It?
This depends on who you ask. Ask any Ophthalmologist they will laugh at you, and tell you that you are wasting your money on something that isn’t backed by science. Ask a normal Optometrist and they will probably agree, but not in such a “high and mighty” way.
Of course any Developmental or Behavioral Optometrist (the ones that do vision therapy) is going to think it’s great.
Honestly, all of those opinions stink. How can I possibly trust people who are going to make or not make money based off of my choice? Especially when they are, apparently, at war with each other.
If you check out the Facebook page, Vision Therapy Parents Unite, you will find thousands of success stories. These people are amazed at the results that Vision Therapy has produced:
- Improved accommodation and convergence
- Decreased headaches
- Improved reading speed and comprehension
- Eliminated double vision
- Strengthened and eliminated “Lazy Eye” or eye turn
- Improved prescription for amblyopic patients
- Improved depth perception
- Acquired 3D vision or stereopsis
- And a ton more…
If you or your child has strabismus I highly recommend reading the book Fix My Gaze to hear a real story of someone gaining 3D vision for the first time in her life at age 50 through Vision Therapy. It is more than inspiring.
So maybe the double blind super fancy research studies haven’t caught up with Vision Therapy yet, but it seems like research is always a bit behind. There are tons of studies that have been done, they just aren’t at the level that allow for legislative and insurance changes quite yet. They will be, it’s only a matter of time.
For now, thousands of personal experiences are good enough for me. I’m all in, I just need to inherit a quick $10,000, and we’ll be golden. Stereo vision, here I come!
Who Provides Vision Therapy?
Your first appointment and consultation for Vision Therapy will most likely be with a Behavioral or Developmental Optometrist. The weekly appointments are, many times, conducted by a Vision Therapist who is someone that has completed in depth training, but no degree is required. Some clinics actually train Occupation Therapists as Vision Therapists, which seems brilliant. These are great questions to ask as you select an office.
How can I find a Vision Therapy Clinic?
Use this handy directory that will guide you towards a Vision Therapy Clinic near you. This article will help you shop around for prices and highly trained professionals. The highest education level for this profession is a FCOVD, check for that credential on their website and you’ll know you’ve found a good one.