Another Perspective on What’s Expensive

Money doesn’t grow on trees, so patients and families are understandably cautious about what they invest in.  I’ve previously addressed the fact that to do vision therapy with appropriate outcomes, one needs to do office based therapy, and doing office based therapy properly involves a serious investment in time and resources.  Home therapy is a useful adjunct, but is not intended to bypass office therapy.  After reading our blog and participating in Sovoto (the vision advocacy network), Pamela Kohn created a PDF showing another perspective on what’s expensive.

Permit me to point out several highlights of Pamela’s well-organized compilation.  She is an adult who completed vision therapy in our office for convergence insufficiency.  She addresses long-standing difficulties with reading, sports, and driving.  Pam is a bright, insightful woman and what comes through loud and clear are the long-term costs to a patient’s psyche when they are made to feel that they’re dramatizing a problem that doesn’t exist.  This added to the repeated and useless cost of exams provided by “top doctors” who did nothing other than to tweak her spectacle prescriptions, which would turn out to be an additional waste of money.  Her unique approach in writing this is to identify her problems, show how expensive the “find nothing/do nothing” approach actually is, and show how inexpensive vision therapy is relative to the benefits it provides.  She also touches upon how appreciative she is of the primary care optometrist who determined that she could benefit from VT with no ulterior motive other than to see her obtain needed care.

A few more observations.   I received these thoughts unsolicited from Pam and therefore wanted to preserve her raw and heartfelt emotion.  Pam chooses to call VT a “cheap solution”, and by this she means comparatively inexpensive.  You’ll note that she completed therapy in three months, which is the same time frame used in the CITT study.  This time frame worked for Pam because of what she brought to the therapy environment, and her interaction with her therapist, which she beautifully details.  Therapy is highly individualized in terms of projected time frames and is prescribed based on the patient’s diagnosed condition and supporting factors.  It was fortunate for Pam that her major medical carrier reimbursed her for 80% of the fees paid to our office.  In that sense her net outlay was inexpensive, but she would be the first to tell you that even if she weren’t reimbursed a dime, her therapy was well worth the investment.

– Leonard J. Press, O.D., FCOVD, FAAO

6 thoughts on “Another Perspective on What’s Expensive

  1. I was very happy to see this post, as I have been trying to think of how to articulate my thoughts on the same subject. My son, who has 20/20 vision with accommodative esotropia, had such great improvement with glasses alone. He has only been in therapy a short time and has shown so much improvement: sits still and enjoys art, keeps up with and actually leads other children in some sports, laughs often and is generally relaxed, calm and confident again, and is now interested in learning to read.

    I could go on, but the point is that these improvements are a dream come true for our family. As I read about the argument that therapy is expensive, I think well so is tutoring, further evaluation to find a diagnosis while we ignore accommodative esotropia as the source of trouble, the toll it takes on a child’s self confidence, and all the other resources we would have sought to help our child. Glasses and a few months of therapy are really the cost-efficient and most effective way to handle our son’s issue. It is also preventing more issues down the road. We are so fortunate in that he is only five and is having this treatment before entering kindergarten. In my opinion it is money well spent.

    • Precisely, Robyn. Couldn’t have said it any better, which is why it’s so powerful when parents have the opportunity to exchange information directly with other parents, rather than having information about VT “spun” negatively by professionals with an axe to grind.

      If you’re a member of Sovoto, the Vision Advocacy network, take a look at the new Forum that was just formed, Team Jillian:
      If you aren’t yet a member, it’s simple to join. Many thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

  2. I found this post to be EXTREMELY helpful/comforting/positive! I am a soon to be 39 year old woman who had retinal surgery in both eyes last July(left eye)/August(right eye). After surgery on the second eye I began to experience double vision. My retina surgeon quickly dismissed my condition by saying, “You had surgery on both eyes. Double vision is inevitable. It will go away in a couple of weeks.” He then “cleared” me to go back to work a week after my last surgery. I was dumbfounded, simply because I couldn’t see! Not only did I see TWO of everything but, my vison had become blurrier than before! I went to see my regular ophthalmologist and he immediately determined I needed muscle surgery. He also dismissed me with a new prescription and tape over my left lens as a quick fix for my double vision. At that point I felt defeated. I literally cried when I left his office. I couldn’t imagine going through another surgery! Especially since the last one didn’t go so well (recovery was NOT pleasant!)

    I came to the conclusion that I could only help myself out of this situation. My so-called “physicians” weren’t going to do it. I typed “double vision” in my internet browser and there I found my salvation 🙂 Dr. Marcy Rose, OD, FCOVD was in my area and also specialized in vision therapy. I decided to schedule an appointment just to see what she would say.

    I have to say, from the very beginning, my experience at North Park Vision was a COMPLETE 180 from what I had experienced last summer with my other doctors! Dr. Rose, Kathy Rutland, C.O.V.T, and my therapist Jackie Bratt are part of an amazing team that have completely changed my vision, the way I see things (both literally and figuratively) and my attitude. The process is ongoing, and I wish I could offer more thorough details on my condition (terminology, diagnosis, etc..) but what I DO know is that I started therapy last October with a 15 base-in prism on my left eye and I am currently at a 6! I still experience some eye fatigue and double vision when I’m tired but my outlook is MUCH more positive now! I would never argue that vision therapy is too expensive. I believe this road I have chosen is much more successful and beneficial than the “muscle surgery route” the other doctor wanted me to take.

    There are many more questions I have regarding the necessity of a scleral buckle on my right eye (it seems that’s was caused all this in the first place) but all in all I am simply thankful that I can see!

    • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Denise, and I’m delighted that you found Pamela’s post to be helpful and supportive. I know Dr. Rose quite well and she, Kathy and the entire office staff have a stellar reputation. It’s wonderful to hear of your experiences. Something I’ve come to appreciate more so now than ever is the bond that is forged between adult vision therapy patients and our practices. The term I’m going to use to describe the common bond is courage.. Icons such as Susan Barry, who has become a good friend, and patients like Pamela Kohn and Greg Voth who are now active on the Sovoto website, continue to inspire me through the courage that they showed (and continue to show) in overcoming all the roadblocks and dead ends that are placed in their path. In parallel fashion Doctors of Optometry who succeed in this field, such as Dr. Rose, exhibit considerable courage in moving beyond the unintended or willful ignorance of physicians who ignore or misrepresent our body of work. I wish you continued success, and many thanks again for the courage to share.

  3. I really liked Robyn’s comments that her son’s improvements were a dream come true for her family. I completely agree. Jillian can now accomplish anything she wants in life and I cannot even think of a cost that would be too high to pay for such a gift. And, like Robyn, the dream that came true was not just Jillian’s, but also that of her dad and me. We have gone from sharing our child’s struggles to sharing her happiness. I think of how much we’ve been saving for our children to go to college someday and I wonder if Jillian would have even made it to college if not for vision therapy. I often receive emails from parents complaining about the cost of VT and I ask them to try to see the life changing VALUE to vision therapy. One mother wrote me just the other day that she and her husband could not in any way find the money for vision therapy for her son and wanted to know if there were grants or scholarship programs. She asked me to look into it and that she would contact me upon returning from a vacation in the Bahamas. Not to pass judgement on her, but I found myself wondering if she won the trip, had saved for years for a dream vacation or if she placed a higher value on vacations than she did on her child’s future. Her personal choices are not really any of my business, but I do hope, through advocacy efforts, that we can continue to share the opinions of those, we Robin/Robyns of the world, who can’t put a price tag on dreams that come true.

  4. I’m starting to think there’s something special about parents named Robin/Robyn, whether it’s spelled with an “i” or a “y”. You both have such a refreshing outlook and valuable insights, and thank you for sharing them. You make a crucial point, Robin, and that is the VALUE of vision therapy. While none of us are in a position to judge someones pocketbook, let’s assume that the mother who emailed you is paying for their Bahamas vacation entirely “out of pocket”. Clearly she places value on that vacation. I agree that the best way to help other parents see the light on this issue is that sometimes you have to find a way to invest in your child’s future. Through advocacy efforts of parents/patients as you and Jillian, and concept threads such as my former patient Pam Kohn made that triggered this blog piece, and through networking via advocacy vehicle such as Sovoto, we are going to educate increasing numbers of parents who will see vision therapy fees in perspective, enabling more informed and intelligent choices. Thank you once again.

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