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Why Does Insurance Companies Do Not Cover Vision Therapy

2346 words - 9 pages

Optometrists have accepted vision therapy, which is a medical treatment for optical muscle disabilities, as a feasible treatment used for eye related problems; claiming the treatment can strengthen vision and give the patient the opportunity to understand visuals quicker and clearer (Press). Vision therapy originated in the 1950s and over the past 25 years, has gained popularity, mainly because of new technological innovations in the field of treatment. Generally, vision therapy is prescribed as a measure mainly for people between the ages of 3 and 18. With the results from a comprehensive series of eye tests, the optometrist can work with the patient using special instruments—prisms, filters, occluders, and eye lenses—and strengthen the eye muscles, thus improving sight. According to optometrists in favor of vision therapy, these methods of treatment using these instruments function as safer routes to repair eye disabilities. Although vision therapy can yield favorable results, the practice as a treatment for innate eye disabilities has been in hot debate lately; as it can exceed $8000 and insurance companies do not cover the treatment. For decades, insurance companies have refused to accept vision therapy as a legitimate method for repairing eyesight (Boink). Concomitant with lack of insurance, the cost for a full treatment can exceed $8000, and doctors cannot guarantee a successful outcome. Recently, parents of children with eye related disabilities, such as amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (cross-eye), and doctors have attempted to cooperate with public schools to allow families access to school-funded doctors to practice vision therapy. With a tight budget, most schools cannot afford to supply vision therapy, and as a result they either deny the therapy has anything to do with a child’s learning issues, or refuse altogether to install a therapy program because of lack of funds (Press). Although vision therapy may prove effective at a young age, the cost, coupled with lack of coverage by insurance companies and schools, undermines its efficiency and ability to serve as a viable treatment.
As Dr. Leonard Press stated, “‘We see with our brains and minds, not just with our eyes’” (Press). There is a distinct discrepancy between vision and eyesight (Cantu). Eyesight simply means a person’s ability to see, whereas vision means the sense by which objects in an environment are perceived. People with eye disabilities often have trouble learning and performing simple tasks, especially young children who haven’t learned to coexist with and adapt to their innate disabilities. Eyes are indirectly an extension of the brain, and all the visual light that is captured and registered must process in the brain itself. When the connection between the brain and the eyes fails or weakens, an eye, or even a learning disability such as dysgraphia or dyslexia, can form. According to Dr. Matthew Wade, an Ophthalmologist with knowledge in the field...

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