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Is Laser Vision Correction Right for You?

What’s the Difference Between PRK and LASIK?


Laser Vision Correction | Central Valley Eye Medical Group | Stockton, CADespite the fact that LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) eye surgery was approved by the FDA less than 20 years ago, in 1999, everyone knows about it. It can take a person who has lived his or her entire life dependent on glasses to see the alarm clock and give that person perfect vision. But sometimes patients at the Central Valley Eye Medical Group don’t quite fit as candidates for LASIK.

In those cases, we often perform photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). PRK was actually the first laser eye surgery, approved in 1995.

Why Can’t Some People Have Lasik?

Although it is rare, some people don’t qualify as good candidates for LASIK. Some of these patients have larger pupils or thin corneas that do not work for the LASIK procedure.

What’s the Difference Between LASIK and PRK?

In LASIK, a flap is created on the outer cornea by a laser microkeratome or by a blade. This flap is then gently folded back to expose the underlying surface of the cornea. A computer-controlled amount of laser energy is then used to remove the desired amount of cornea tissue to correct the shape of the cornea and create vision correction. Corneas that aren’t the correct shape create refraction problems that lead to issues such as near- or far-sightedness. Once the cornea tissue is removed, the corneal flap is placed back into its original position and allowed to heal. No sutures are needed. The whole process only takes seconds, and the patient experiences significant improvement in their vision anywhere from one to five days after the procedure.

In PRK, the corneal epithelium is removed and discarded, unlike in LASIK where a flap is made and later placed back down. Since this layer is removed in PRK, the eye has to regenerate those cells in recovery. Once the corneal epithelium is removed, the laser is then used to reshape the cornea, as is done in LASIK.

Because the corneal epithelium is not removed in LASIK procedures recovery can be easier and faster than with PRK. Still, if a patient isn’t a good candidate for LASIK, PRK does not involve a difficult recovery by any means. The results from the two procedures are very similar.

Can’t Have LASIK? See Clearly with PRK

So, if you don’t qualify for LASIK, don’t worry. PRK is a similar surgery that will provide similar results. We’ll discuss your options when you come in for your consultation. If you’re tired of glasses or contacts, call the team at Central Valley Eye Medical Group, (800) 244-9907, to make an appointment.

Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy

in Corneal Disease

Corneal Disease | Central Valley Eye Medical Group | Stockton, CAThe cornea is at the front of the eye; it allows light rays to enter the eye. It has three layers, the outer epithelium, a middle area called stroma, and an inner, delicate lining called the endothelium. The job of the endothelium is to prevent water inside the eyeball from moving into and swelling the other layers of the cornea. The cells of the endothelium pump water from the cornea back into the eye.

Problems occur when this doesn’t happen. If the endothelium isn’t working correctly, water moves into the cornea. This leads to swelling that clouds the cornea and blurs vision. The more the cornea swells, the more vision is blurred.

Eventually, water makes it to the outer layer, the epithelium, resulting in eye pain and more severe vision impairment. This swelling also changes the normal curvature of the eye, changing vision. A sight-limiting haze also develops.

We have a set number of endothelium cells. We don’t make anymore, and they decrease as we age. For most people, even a decreased number of cells is sufficient to maintain vision even in old age.

Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy

Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy is an inherited condition that affects the inner cornea, the endothelium. People with this condition have endothelial cells that aren’t as efficient as they should be in moving water, and they age and deteriorate more rapidly than normal endothelial cells. This allows more water to move from inside the eyeball into the cornea.


Hazy morning vision — This is because when our eyes are open during the day, water evaporates from the eye. But at night, with our eyelids closed, this doesn’t happen, so the patient wakes with hazy, blurred vision due to the water buildup at night.

These are other symptoms:

  • Fluctuating vision
  • Glare when looking at lights
  • Light sensitivity
  • Sandy, gritty sensation
  • Episodes of sharp, sometimes incapacitating pain


At Central Valley Eye Medical Group, we can diagnose Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy and, although there is no cure, treat it. We prescribe salt solutions containing sodium chloride to draw fluid from the cornea to reduce swelling. Steroid eye drops are useful in some patients. We also give the patient some home practices, such as holding a hair dryer at arm’s length and blowing the air towards the face with the eyes open. This evaporates water from the cornea and temporarily reduces swelling.

When vision deteriorates to the extent that it interferes with daily activities and impairs the patient’s life, we may recommend a cornea transplant. This surgery replaces the full thickness of the cornea, all three layers, with healthy layers.

Schedule a Consultation

If you have the symptoms of Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy, please give us a call at Central Valley Eye Medical Group, (800) 244-9907, and let’s take a look at your eyes.

A Scratch on Your Cornea

in Corneal Abrasions

Corneal Abrasions | Central Valley Eye Medical Group | Stockton, CAWhen we’re out and about in Stockton and our surroundings, whether working or playing, sometimes a person can scratch his or her cornea. It’s one of the most common eye injuries, but usually can be easily treated and healed by the team at Central Valley Eye Medical Group.

What Is the Cornea?

The cornea is the clear front surface of the eye. The cornea focuses light, enabling us to see, so a healthy cornea is a must for good vision. When the cornea is scratched, not only is it painful, but it also makes the cornea more susceptible to infection. That’s why it is important to come and see us at Central Valley if you scratch your cornea, rather than thinking you’ll take care of it by yourself.

What Happens in a Corneal Abrasion?

As you would assume, you can scratch the cornea in countless ways. From a stray tree branch when out hiking to a makeup brush, from workplace debris to sports equipment, just about anything can scratch your cornea. And it’s not as if it needs to be a noticeable event, such as getting poked in the eye. Sand and dust can cause abrasions, especially if you rub your eyes.

What Are the Symptoms of a Corneal Abrasion?

The cornea is one of the most sensitive parts of the body, so you’ll know when you’ve scratched it. Even a small abrasion can be extremely painful and can feel much larger than it actually is.

A scratched cornea will be painful and it will feel as if you have something in your eye. Other symptoms are redness, tearing, light sensitivity, headaches, blurry or decreased vision, eye twitching, a dull ache, and sometimes even nausea.

It’s important not to rub your eyes, as this can make matters much worse. If you get something in your eye, you can flush it with sterile saline eyewash or contact lens solution. Don’t use tap water, as it can have microorganisms that can lead to infection. After flushing your eye, if the foreign body sensation continues, call us at Central Valley immediately. The danger is the risk of infection.

Diagnosis and Treatment

When our doctors examine your scratched eye, our magnifying instruments will show us the extent of the abrasion and if there are still foreign materials present. We may use a fluorescein dye to help identify the abrasions.

We’ll often then apply a topical anesthesia to help relieve your eye pain. A tight patch will be placed over the eye and this will usually help a small abrasion heal overnight. If the abrasion is larger, we may prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection and the healing may take a few days.

Schedule a Consultation

If you’ve scratched your cornea, please don’t hesitate to call us at Central Valley Eye Medical Group, (800) 244-9907.

Those Inflamed, Crusty Eyelids

in Blepharitis

Blepharitis | Central Valley Eye Medical Group | Stockton, CAIf there’s one eye condition that pretty much everyone has at some point in his or her life it’s blepharitis. Blepharitis simply is a clinical term for eyelid inflammation. While everyone gets it sometimes, others get it ofttimes. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy for the team at Central Valley Eye Medical Group to treat.

What Are the Types of Blepharitis?

  • Staphylococcus blepharitis — Caused by probably the most well-known bacteria, staphylococci, this type of blepharitis often begins in childhood and continues on through adulthood. The infection creates collar scales on the lashes, crusting, and chronic redness at the lid margin. Dilated blood vessels, loss of lashes, sties, and chalazia (nodules on the eyelids) can also be part of this blepharitis.
  • Seborrhea blepharitis — The most common form, this isn’t a true infection but is caused by improper function of the oil glands of the eyelids. This leads to the development of greasy, waxy scales along the eyelid margins. Seborrhea may be a part of an overall skin disorder that also affects other areas.
  • Ulcerative blepharitis — This is less common but more severe. It is characterized by matted, hard crusts around the eyelashes. When these are removed, it creates small sores that may bleed or ooze. Ulcerative blepharitis can also cause loss of eyelashes, distortion of the front edges of the eyelids, and chronic tearing.

What Are the Symptoms of Blepharitis?

  • Itchy, burning, watery eyes
  • Sore eyes
  • Sticky discharge that causes the eyelids to stick together
  • Redness of the eyelid edges
  • Frequent sties
  • Tiny pimples on the eyelid edges
  • Scaly skin flakes along the eyelid margins
  • Gritty sensation leading to irritated eyes and light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision

How We Treat Blepharitis

Keeping the eyelashes clean can control most blepharitis. To do this, take a washcloth moistened with hot tap water and hold it against your eyelids until it cools. Keep repeating this for 5-10 minutes. After soaking, scrub each eyelid gently for one minute using a clean washcloth wrapped around your index finger and moistened with water. You can also use Q-Tips for this. To help get rid of the accumulated gunk, you can put a few drops of non-irritating shampoo in lukewarm water and moisten a washcloth, scrubbing back and forth along the eyelashes. Once the redness and soreness subside, this can become a weekly routine.

We may prescribe medications and recommend using eye drops or ointment, along with the cleaning regimen. For staphylococcus blepharitis, we may prescribe antibiotics to deal with the bacteria and alter the oil composition of the eyelid oil glands.

Schedule a Consultation

If you have the symptoms of blepharitis, please give us a call at Central Valley Eye Medical Group, (800) 244-9907, to make an appointment.

What Kind of Lenses Will You Replace Your Cataracts with?

in Cataracts

IOL | Central Valley Medical Group | Stockton, CACataracts are a very common condition affecting people over the age of 60. This clouding of the lenses of our eyes occurs when proteins build up over time. There isn’t any cure for cataracts, but surgery removes the cataract-clouded lens and replaces it with what is called an intraocular lens. These lenses keep getting better and better offering not only cataract-free sight but improved overall sight.

At Central Valley Eye Medical Group, cataract care is a big part of our service for our patients. Here’s some more information on the lenses that are available today.

What Causes Cataracts to Develop?

There are many factors that can cause a patient to develop cataracts, where the lens, found behind the iris and the pupil, becomes clouded: aging, eye trauma, excessive sun exposure, disease inside the eye, family history, smoking, diabetes, and poor nutrition. No matter the underlying cause, it is important to have the clouded natural lenses removed and replaced with new implanted artificial lenses.

Cataracts most commonly develop in people over the age of sixty. People often don’t realize they have cataracts as their vision deteriorates very slowly. But at a certain point, the clouding begins to really impact the vision. It’s as if the person is looking out through a dirty window all the time. This is the time to have your cataracts removed and replaced by the experienced surgeons at Central Valley Eye Medical Group.

Lens Choices for Cataract Replacement

Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract. An artificial lens, or an intraocular lens implant (IOL), will replace the clouded lens. At Central Valley, we keep expanding the options our patients have for their IOLs. Here are the various types of lenses, but you can ready about individual lens models on other pages of our website.

  • Monofocal lens implants– These lenses were originally the only option for IOLs. These lenses only offer vision at one distance — far, intermediate, or near. The wearer will need glasses either for up close or distance vision. The focal distance can be at whichever the distance the patient prefers. It can be set for both eyes to either see at a distance, such as for driving or watching TV; or for near vision, such as reading and using a computer. Or, one eye can receive an IOL that provides near vision and the other eye an IOL that provides distance vision. Most people can adjust to this seemingly disjointed arrangement, as the brain adjusts and filters the incoming stimuli according to the vision needed.
  • Multifocal lens implants– These newer lenses allow the patient to see well at more than one distance, without glasses. They are “premium” lenses because of the extra benefits that are unavailable in monovision IOLs.
  • Accommodating lens implants– Accommodating implants shift with the action of the eye muscles to increase focusing ability. These lenses offer excellent vision at all distances.
  • Toric lens implants– These lenses not only replace cataract-clouded lenses, but also correct astigmatism. There are various options depending on the amount of correction a patient needs. Plus, in 2013 the first accommodating toric IOL was approved by the FDA.

If your vision has become cloudy, there’s no reason to live with it. Cataract surgery is incredibly successful and today’s new IOL choices are awesome. Call us at Central Valley Eye Medical Group, (800) 244-9907, and schedule a cataract surgery consultation.

Macular Degeneration, the Unknown Vision Stealer

in Macular Degeneration Treatment

Macular Degeneration Stockton, CAMost people have never heard of the macula, much less macular degeneration. But this disease is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over the age of 60.

Macular degeneration, as the name implies, is the deterioration of the macula, the central portion of the retina. The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye. Because macular degeneration develops as a person ages, the condition is often referred to as age-related macular degeneration. It rarely results in a person becoming totally blind, but it can significantly impact the quality of a person’s vision.

Dry and Wet Forms

There are two basic types of macular degeneration.

  • Dry form — This is the more common form of macular degeneration. It is characterized by the presence of yellow deposits, called drusen, in the macula. A few small drusen may not impact the person’s vision. But as they grow in size and number they can cause dimming or distortion of vision that people notice when they read. If the dry form advances, the disease can cause thinning of the light-sensitive layer of cells in the macula leading to tissue death. This is called the atrophic form of dry macular degeneration. Patients will develop blind spots in the center of their vision or total loss of central vision.
  • Wet form — In the “wet form” of macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels grow in the choroid underneath the macula. These blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina, causing distorted vision (lines become wavy), blind spots, and a loss of central vision. Vision loss occurs when these abnormal blood vessels bleed and eventually form a scar.

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Unfortunately, in its early stages, macular degeneration may not have any symptoms. It often progresses and affects both eyes before a person begins to notice changes. These are symptoms of macular degeneration:

  • Blind or flawed area in the center of vision
  • Difficult reading without extra light or magnification
  • Seeing objects as distorted or blurred, or otherwise abnormal
  • The perception that objects “jump” when you try to look directly at them
  • Inability to see details
  • Difficulty seeing to read or drive

Regular Exams Are the Key

When checking your eyes during your regular eye exams, we can detect the signs of macular degeneration, even if you aren’t noticing any symptoms. Since the presence of drusen is a common early sign, our Central Valley Eye Medical Group doctors can see these easily when examining your eyes. Early detection, as with most things, can dramatically impact the severity of the disease.

Your yearly eye exams aren’t just an exercise — they are intended to head off things like macular degeneration before they become more severe. Call the team at Central Valley Eye Medical Group, (800) 244-9907, to make your exam appointment.


in Amblyopia

Amblyopia | Central Valley Eye Medical Group | Manteca CAMost people have heard of amblyopia, just not by that clinical name. You’ve probably heard it called “lazy eye.” This occurs when the vision in one of a child’s eyes doesn’t develop normally. It is caused when visual information is transmitted poorly or incorrectly between the optic nerve and the brain. If left untreated, amblyopia can cause the brain to ignore information coming from the affected eye, potentially harming vision permanently.

At Central Valley Eye Medical Group, we can diagnose and treat amblyopia, returning your child’s vision to normal or at least vastly improving it.

What Causes Amblyopia?

This condition often starts when one eye has much better focus than the other. This can happen if one eye is more farsighted or has dramatic astigmatism, but the other eye has more normal vision.

In other cases, a child’s eyes don’t align properly. One could turn in or out, a condition known as strabismus. This is where the term “lazy eye” came from. This can lead to amblyopia because the eyes can’t focus together on an image, creating the double vision.

Some children have trouble seeing out of one eye because a congenital cataract or a small amount of blood is blocking vision.

The brain, when faced with conflicting information from both eyes, ignores the eye that isn’t aligned, is farsighted, etc. As the brain ignores that eye, vision continues to deteriorate.

How Amblyopia Is Diagnosed

This is the reason we need to see all children before they are school age, as amblyopia can lead to serious learning setbacks for a child. We recommend seeing your child at 6 months, 3 years, and then right before he or she enters school. If there are issues, we will continue to want to see the child regularly. When checking for amblyopia, here’s what we look for:

  • Both eyes see equally well
  • Each eye moves as it should
  • Nothing blocks the light coming into either eye

How We Treat Amblyopia

To treat amblyopia, we force the child’s brain to start using the weak eye, to quit ignoring it. First, we’ll correct any underlying problem in the eye, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. If there is a cataract, we may recommend removing it. Most kids with amblyopia need glasses to help their eye focus.

Next, we’ll have the child wear a patch over his or her strong eye. At first, vision will not be great through only the weak/ignored eye, but it’s important to wear the patch to force the brain to use the weak eye. It may take weeks or even months, but the vision will improve. If strabismus is involved, we may recommend surgery on the eye muscles to correct it.

Schedule a Consultation

Amblyopia can usually be corrected, but the older the child is before we start, the harder the condition is to treat. Is it time to bring your child in for his or her eye exam? Call the team at Central Valley Eye Medical Group, (800) 244-9907, to make your appointment.

Who Put Those Lines in Front of My Vision

in Flashes & Floaters

Flashes & Floaters | Central Valley Eye Medical Group | Stockton, CA You’re lost in thought, gazing off into the blue California sky when you don’t notice the sky, you notice the squiggly lines, spots, or cobwebs floating about seemingly in front of your eyes. You’ve seen them before, but the question is, “What are they and should I be worried about them?”

What you’re seeing are floaters, and just about three-quarters of people see them. Usually, they’re harmless and don’t need any attention, but in some patients, they could be a sign of vitreous detachment.

Here’s the deal on floaters from the team at Central Valley Eye Medical Group.

What Causes Floaters?

Floaters look like they are in the front of your eyes, but they are shadows cast by objects suspended in the clear, gel-like substance that makes up the vitreous humor, which is the majority of what’s in your eye’s interior. The vitreous helps maintain the eye’s round shape.

You see floaters because focused light passes through the lens of your eye heading for the back of the eye, the retina. The retina has photosensitive cells called rods and cones that take the light energy and convert it into signals that are carried to the brain by the optic nerve. The problem is before the light gets to the retina it has to pass through the vitreous, where the globs and lines are floating around. So the light passes through and creates shadows.

Floaters are normally clumps of protein in the vitreous gel. These stringy clusters look like transparent circles, worms, tadpoles, or whatever your imagination makes them out to be. They are a permanent part of your eye, once clumped together.

More Floaters with Age

Just as you have more aches the older you get, so it is with floaters. As we age, the vitreous gel shrinks. As it pulls away from the retina, bits of debris can enter the gel and become new floaters. These floaters look like cobwebs.

Regular Exams Make Sure They’re Just Floaters

While most floaters are just a part of being human, sometimes they can point to more serious retinal problems such as holes, tears, or detachment. That’s why it’s important to get regular eye exams, probably yearly after you hit 55 or so. We have special instruments that can look at the retina and the vitreous to distinguish between the harmless globs of protein and more serious issues.

Schedule a Consultation

Do think you have new floaters? Or you see persistent flashes? You should probably come in and see us at Central Valley Eye Medical Group so we can check your eyes. Call us at (800) 244-9907 to make an appointment.


in Blepharitis

Blepharitis | Central Valley Eye Medical Group | Stockton & Manteca, CAHaving an inflamed eyelid isn’t unusual. It may feel as if you have a piece of sand in your eye or your eyelashes could be crusty in the morning when you awake. Just about everyone has this kind of inflammation at one time or another. To the team at Central Valley Eye Medical Group, we call it blepharitis. Here’s some information about this inflammation and what you can do about it.

Types of Blepharitis

  • Seborrhea blepharitis — This is the most common form of eyelid inflammation. It isn’t due to an infection but is caused by improper function of the oil glands that lubricate the eyes. This causes greasy, waxy scales to accumulate along the eyelid margins. Nutrition, hormones, stress, and your physical condition are factors in seborrhea blepharitis.
  • Ulcerative blepharitis — This form is less common, but is more severe. Matted hard crusts form around the eyelashes, but when they are removed, they leave small sores that then bleed or ooze. There can also be chronic tearing and loss of the eyelashes.
  • Staphylococcus blepharitis — This form is caused by the Staphylococci bacteria. This form of blepharitis results in collar scales on the lashes, crusting, and chronic redness at the lid margin. It may also cause sties, chalazia, the loss of the eyelashes, and dilated blood vessels.

What Are the Symptoms of Blepharitis?

  • Itchy, burning, watery eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Crusted eyes when you first wake
  • Dry eyes
  • Eyelashes that grow at different angles
  • Greasy eyelids
  • Itchy eyes
  • Red eyelids
  • Swelling
  • Frequent sty formation
  • Scaly flakes along the eyelid margins

How Do We Treat Blepharitis?

At Central Valley Eye Medical Group, we’ll show you how to clean your eyelashes, as this is usually the most effective way to control your blepharitis. A very warm washcloth applied to the eyelids until it cools one important cleaning method. You can also lightly scrub your eyelids with a washcloth moistened with warm water and wrapped around your finger.

If your blepharitis is more involved, we may prescribe eye drops or ointment. In some cases, oral medication (usually antibiotics) may be prescribed to alter the oil composition of the eyelid oil glands.

Do you have the symptoms of blepharitis? Call the team at Central Valley Eye Medical Group, (800) 244-9907, and let’s take a look.

Foods that Your Eyes Like

in Eye Care

Ophthalmology Services | Central Valley Eye Medical Group | Stockton, CAJust about every Mom in the world has told her child, who is busy pushing his or her carrots around their plate and not eating them, to “eat your carrots — they’re good for your eyes.”

Is that true?

While certain foods can provide instant benefits for areas such as providing energy (marathon runners loading up on pasta a day before the race), the various foods that benefit your eyes take on a protective function, keeping them healthier and helping them ward off vision problems.

Since many of these foods are found right here in California, the team at Central Valley Eye Medical Group thought it would be appropriate to pass information on them to you.


Let’s jump right in with carrots; your Mom’s favorite. Carrots are full of beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A that helps the retina and other parts of the eye to function. Beta-carotene gives fruits and vegetables their orange hue, so you’ll find it in carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, apricots, and cantaloupe.

Lutein and zeaxanthin

Your Mom didn’t tell you about lutein and zeaxanthin, but she would have had she known about these two antioxidants. Lutein and zeaxanthin help the eyes to ward off cataracts and macular degeneration. Leafy green vegetables (cooked kale and spinach are the highest sources) and other green and yellow vegetables are good sources of these antioxidants. Eggs also have lutein and zeaxanthin, along with zinc. The macula has high levels of zinc.

Citrus and vitamin C

Citrus and berries contain all kinds of health benefits. These fruits are great sources of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body form and maintains its connective tissue, including collagen found in the cornea of the eye. It also reduces the risk for the formation of cataracts and macular degeneration. You’ll find vitamin C in berries, sweet red peppers, broccoli, and oranges.


Despite their reputation for requiring more than their share of California’s water, almonds contain vitamin E, another ally in the fight against macular degeneration and cataracts. Vitamin E appears to neutralize oxidation in the eyes. Cataracts, for example, are formed by oxidation in the lens of the eye caused by the UV rays in sunlight. Almonds, sunflower seeds, cereal with wheat germ, hazelnuts, peanuts, and peanut butter are all good sources of vitamin E.


Finally, get a little fishy when warding off macular degeneration. Oily fish like tuna, mackerel, salmon, and trout are rich in omega-3 fatty acid. A diet heavy in omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to reduce age-related macular degeneration by 38 percent.

Now you know what you should be eating to keep your eyes healthy. Speaking of your eye health, is it time for your next eye exam? Call the team at Central Valley Eye Medical Group, (800) 244-9907, to schedule your appointment.