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Is Vision Therapy Covered by OHIP?

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A woman wearing dark glasses and looking at a vision therapy diagram as her eye doctor points to it.

For many Ontarians, navigating the complexities of healthcare coverage can feel like a blind spot in an already complex landscape. Vision therapy, an increasingly recognized form of treatment for vision challenges beyond the scope of traditional eyeglasses or contact lenses, is a prime example. Residents may wonder, “Is vision therapy covered by OHIP, and if so, what does that mean for me?”

Unfortunately, OHIP doesn’t cover vision therapy, but other payment options are available to help you access the vision care you need, including vision therapy.

The Importance of Vision Therapy

In its essence, vision therapy is a personalized program of exercises, often conducted under the supervision of a vision specialist, designed to correct certain visual deficiencies. This can range from:

  • Focusing problems and eye strain  
  • Disorders such as strabismus (eye turn) or amblyopia (lazy eye)   
  • Concussion and stroke recovery
  • Sports vision

The primary goal is to improve coordination between the eyes and enhance visual processing, leading to a clearer, more coherent picture of the world. 

What Does Vision Therapy Do?

Vision therapy uses noninvasive exercises and techniques to strengthen the connection between the eyes and the brain. To do this, vision therapy builds up visual skills like:

  • Eye tracking: Coordinated movement of the eyes.  
  • Binocular vision: How the eyes work together to form one single picture and depth perception.  
  • Focusing: Using the eye muscles to seamlessly switch focus at various distances.  
  • Spatial relationships: The ability to judge distances and relationships to several moving objects.   
  • Visual memory: The ability to remember words or phrases in the short term.  
  • Peripheral vision: Side vision without turning the head.

By building these skills, you or your child will notice less eye strain, fewer headaches, and improved visual function.

The Range of Benefits from Vision Therapy

Proponents of vision therapy often note the extensive benefits reaped not just in improved vision but in areas that encompass everyday life—a child’s academic performance, an adult’s professional productivity, or the enhanced safety of an older driver. 

By retraining the visual system, it’s possible to address problems at their root. This proactive approach leads to a deeper, more sustained level of improvement. 

Foveal Vision Training uses personalized treatment plans catered to your unique vision function goals. Patients of all ages can build their brain-vision connection using prisms, lenses, filters, and computer programs.

A woman pausing to think while sitting in a library, working at a laptop with a couple of textbooks.

Signs Your Child Needs Vision Therapy 

Children may be unable to verbalize their visual deficiencies, but parents can identify behavioural cues that point to poor visual function.

  • Avoidance of near work  
  • Behavioural problems and attention disorders  
  • Shortened attention span  
  • Reading problems, like skipping words and using their finger to track the page  
  • Interchanging numbers and letters, or diagnosed dyslexia  
  • Poor hand-eye coordination

These can all be signs that your child is struggling with their vision and could benefit from vision therapy to address them.

Costs & Considerations Beyond OHIP

With all the advantages, it’s no wonder that many find the prospect of vision therapy an intriguing option. Yet, the costs can be prohibitive. Vision therapy is often structured as a series of in-office sessions over several weeks or months, each carrying its own charge. The cumulative expenditure can mount, leading one to inquire, “What are the alternatives?” If you have employment benefits or private vision insurance, investigate whether they cover vision therapy.

Children with amblyopia or strabismus may be eligible for some select corrective treatment under OHIP. It’s critical to address eye misalignment and eye-tracking problems early. However, adults with binocular vision problems or convergence insufficiency and post-concussive patients must pay out of pocket.

Improve Visual Function with Vision Therapy

Vision therapy can help support improved academic and sports performance, help heal concussions, and improve the ocular function of those with binocular vision or convergence issues. Dr. Chris Schell O.P.C. can develop a customized treatment plan for you or your child to transform their visual experience. Schedule an eye exam today and explore vision therapy as a treatment option for a range of issues.

Written by Dr. Chris Schell

Dr. Chris Schell attended the University of Waterloo, earning a Bachelor of Science degree with honours. Dr. Schell then pursued his Doctor of Optometry from Waterloo and graduated on the Dean’s honour list. In 2003, Dr. Schell began practicing optometry in Barrie and in March 2010, he opened his own vision care clinic. In April 2017, Dr. Schell received his Fellowship from the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, an achievement less than 1% of Canadian Optometrists have obtained. Dr. Schell is passionate about teaching his patients about their vision and eye health.

Dr. Schell is passionate about vision therapy, and its power and possibilities are endless! Dr. Schell is a proud member of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and Optometric Extension Program Foundation. These two groups focus on educating practitioners and providing the resources to implement vision therapy in their clinics.

Dr. Schell is happily married and has 3 amazing young boys and a wonderful daughter. They love being active, and spending time with family and friends keeps them busy. Dr. Schell loves curling during the winter and golfing in the summer.

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