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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.


Amblyopia

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.


Blepharitis

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.

Carrots

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.

Almonds

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.

Fish

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.


What Does 20/20 Vision Mean?

in Eye Care, Eye Health

Comprehensive Eye Exam | Central Valley Eye Medical GroupThere are certain things about our health that are filled with terms that we hear all the time but aren’t necessarily sure what they mean. Take dentistry and the word “gingivitis.” It’s a fancy term for gum irritation. Or in orthopedics, the terms “sprain” and “strain.” Ligaments versus muscles.

When it comes to our eyes, everyone wants 20/20 vision. But what does that mean? Your Mom probably told you to eat your carrots so that you’d have perfect vision. Is that 20/20?

Since we’re all about the best vision possible at Central Valley Eye Medical Group, let’s give you the lowdown on “20/20” vision.

20/20 defined

The American Optometric Association defines the term, saying it is “used to express normal visual acuity (the clarity or sharpness of vision) measured at a distance of 20 feet.” People with 20/20 vision can see objects, type, etc. that should normally be seen at that distance. The back number is the one that counts. So, if your vision is 20/100, you need to be at 20 feet to see what a person with 20/20 vision can see at 100 feet.

Doesn’t necessarily mean “perfect.”

But don’t be fooled into thinking the 20/20 moniker means the person has perfect vision. Not necessarily. 20/20 is only an indicator of sharpness or vision clarity at a distance. It doesn’t take into account other important factors of vision — peripheral awareness (otherwise known as side vision), eye coordination, depth perception, focusing ability, and color vision. A person could have 20/20 eyesight but be colorblind.

A farsighted person may be able to see the eye chart just fine. But ask that person to read the scorecard after a round of golf, and he’ll be reaching for his reading glasses. Similarly, the person may be able to see from a distance but is unable to focus properly up close (presbyopia).

Plus, no matter what your prescription, be it 20/20, 20/60, or 20/400, you need to maintain the practice of regularly visiting the professionals at Central Valley Eye Medical Group. Why? Things like glaucoma and macular degeneration are evil in that they don’t often show symptoms until about the time they are going to damage your vision permanently. But the team at Central Valley can spot this stuff waaaaaaaay before that happens.

You’re overdue for your annual eye exam, aren’t you? Give us a call at Central Valley Eye Medical Group, (800) 244-9907, to make your appointment.


What are Digital Eyeglass Lenses?

in Optical Services

Digital Lenses Stockton, CAAlthough your eyeglasses correct your vision to 20/20, you may still wish your vision was clearer in certain situations. At Central Valley Eye, we offer high-definition eyeglass lenses that correct for certain vision issues that normal eyeglasses can’t.

Why are my normal eyeglass lenses not always cutting it?

Even if your eyeglasses correct for your predominant vision problem, be it nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, you could have other problems still affecting the clarity of your corrected vision. Doctors refer to this as higher-order aberrations.

Higher-order aberrations are more subtle, complex refractive errors, and the technology behind traditional eyeglasses and contact lenses may not be able to correct for them. These higher-order aberrations can cause difficulty seeing at night, glare, halos, blurring, starburst patterns, or even double vision. Every eye has some degree of higher-order aberrations, but often they aren’t enough to cause issues with vision. Abnormal curvature of the cornea and crystalline lens may contribute to the distortion of many higher-order aberrations.

What are high-definition lenses?

You can’t place the blame on the conventional technology used to create the vast majority of eyeglass lenses and contacts. After all, it was invented in the early 20th century! Conventional lenses provide their optimum clarity through the optical center of the lens. As your eye looks away from the center, the clarity of your vision diminishes. This is, even more, the case with high prescriptions and progressive lenses.

Recent advances in lens manufacturing techniques have made possible new high-definition eyeglass lenses that correct for higher-order aberrations. This allows sharper vision across the lens than has been available before. The design of high-definition lenses provide sharper vision in all lighting conditions and reduce glare for nighttime driving and other night vision tasks.

Free-form lenses

Free-form lenses are the most popular type of high-definition eyeglass lenses. The term “free-form” refers to the advanced manufacturing process that reduces higher-order aberrations such as spherical aberration that occur in traditional eyeglass lenses.

With free-form lenses, computer-controlled surfacing equipment that is much more precise than conventional milling tools is used to create lenses from the wearer’s eyeglass prescription. To show the degree of precision, free-form technology can surface lenses in power increments of 0.01 diopter (D), compared with 0.125 to 0.25 D increments with conventional eyeglass lens tooling.

Interested in having the sharpest corrected vision possible? Call us at Central Valley Eye Medical Group, (800)-244-9907, and ask about our high-definition eyeglass and contact lenses.


2018 Spring Trunk Show

in Announcements

Spring Trunk Show


Just Had Your 40th Birthday? Say Hello to the Gift of Presbyopia

in Eye Conditions

Presbyopia Stockton CASo, you just had your 40th birthday. Hopefully you survived the Depends (or worse) jokes and the black-frosted cake shaped like a tombstone. In reality, though, you’re probably less than halfway through your life.

But there is one eye condition that begins around 40 and will make you feel older. It’s called presbyopia. While presbyopia isn’t a disease or anything, and isn’t curable, we treat it every day at Central Valley Eye Medical Group. Here’s some info about what to expect.

What is presbyopia?

Compared to that aching knee or those crow’s feet around your eyes, most people don’t think of their eyes when it comes to aging. But your eyes do age. Presbyopia is a natural consequence of this. Presbyopia is a condition where the eye loses its ability to change its focus so that you can see objects that are close up. This affects things such as reading or working on a computer. In most people, it starts to appear at the age of 40.

What happens?

When you are young, the lens in your eye is soft and flexible, and it can change shape easily. This is how you focus on objects both up close and far away. After most people turn 40 the lens becomes less flexible, more rigid. It’s not like it happens overnight, but it can’t change shape as easily as it did in your younger days, so it becomes much more difficult to see things up close. You may be able to see the golf ball on the green 250 yards away, but reading the scores on the scorecard in the bar afterwards is a challenge. But you’re in good company — presbyopia affects almost everyone.

Isn’t this just farsightedness? 

People confuse presbyopia with farsightedness (hyperopia), but the two are different conditions. When the lens of the eye loses flexibility with age, that is presbyopia. When the natural shape of the eyeball (the eye is either shorter than normal or has a cornea that is too flat) causes light rays to bend incorrectly when they enter the eye, that is hyperopia. The confusion comes because the results are much the same — the person has difficulty seeing things up close without correction — but the causes are very different. Farsightedness can be present at birth, while presbyopia develops after 40. Hyperopia often has genetic tendencies, while presbyopia is common throughout the population.

There is no cure for presbyopia, but it can be easily corrected. Most people simply opt for standard drugstore reading glasses, having a few pairs around the house whenever they may need to do some reading. It can also be treated with laser surgery.

Now you know what’s been happening with your vision after you hit the dreaded 40th. Is it time for your regular eye exam? Call us at Central Valley Eye Medical, 1-800-244-9907, to make your appointment.


What is Astigmatism?

in Astigmatism, Eye Conditions

Astigmatism Stockton, CAMost of us have at least some flaw in our eyesight. If you’re over 40, your close vision is probably in need of reading glasses. That’s presbyopia and is almost universal for people over age 40. If you’re nearsighted, called myopia, that means you can see up close fine, but distance vision usually needs correction. If you’re farsighted, called hyperopia, you can see at distance just fine, but the close vision is blurry.

And then there’s astigmatism. This condition can be misunderstood as to just what it means. Even the name — astigmatism — is often thought to mean “You have a stigmatism.” No, it’s a single word.

Since we deal with all of these issues all the time at Central Valley Eye Medical Group, let’s take this blog to explain astigmatism a little better.

What is astigmatism?

When a person has astigmatism, their cornea is shaped like a football rather than round. Pretty much everyone has this to some degree; it just may not be the noticeable or impacting vision. A normal eyeball is shaped like a perfectly round ball. Light comes into it and bends evenly, thanks to the perfect roundness, making for clear vision.

But when you have astigmatism, the football shape of your eyeball means that the light gets bent more in one direction than another. That means only part of an object is in focus. It often affects objects at distance, and they may appear blurry and wavy.

What causes astigmatism?

Most people are born with astigmatism. No one knows exactly why. It can also develop after an eye injury, eye disease, or surgery. There is a wives’ tale out there that you can develop astigmatism if you read in bad light or sit too close to the TV, but that’s not true.

How do we treat astigmatism?

Not too long ago, the only way to correct for astigmatism was glasses. Contact lenses had trouble adapting to the shape of the cornea. But today’s contact lenses handle it just fine. Usually, contact lenses will have a line at the top, so the patient can align them properly to get the right fit on the eyeball. These are called toric lenses, and they bend light more in one direction than in the other, hence the need to have them specifically placed on the eyeball.

LASIK surgery can now also fix astigmatism by changing the shape of the cornea.

Is it time for your regular eye exam? Call the team at Central Valley Eye Medical Group, 1-800-244-9907, to make your appointment.