LAGUNA HILLS • SAN CLEMENTE
Orange County, California
800-974-EYES (3937)

Ask The Eye Doctor*

Do YOU have a general question about vision that is not answered on this website? Contact us and we will do our best to get it answered for you.

What is Board Certification?
How often should I have my eyes examined?
What happens during an eye examination?
What is nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism?
What is glaucoma and who is at risk?
What are cataracts and who gets them?
What are premium lens implants?
What are floaters inside the eye?
What is dry eye syndrome (DES) and how is it treated?
What affect does diabetes have on the eye?
What is macular degeneration?
What is keratoconus - can it be treated?
What is pterygium and how it it removed?
What about Plaquenil drug side-effects?
What is LASIK?
Am I a good candidate for LASIK?
Are there alternatives to LASIK?
What are implantable contact lenses?
What is BOTOX® Cosmetic used for?
Is BOTOX® Cosmetic safe?


*Please Note: Not all questions are answered directly by the physicians of Harvard Eye Associates. The content on this website and webpage is not intended to be a substitute for a medical exam, diagnosis or treatment regarding an ophthalmology question.

Please do not disregard or delay medical treatment because of material you might have read on this website. If you have a medical problem, please contact Harvard Eye Associates immediately and schedule an appointment for an eye exam. If your case is an emergency, please dial 911. 


What is Board Certification?

The American Board of Ophthalmology is an independent, not-for-profit organization responsible for certifying ophthalmologists (eye physicians and surgeons) in the United States. The ABO was the first American board established to certify medical specialists and offers the only eye care certificate recognized by both the American Board of Medical Specialties and the American Medical Association.
In the United States, in order to become an ophthalmologist, one must have completed four years of college, four years of medical school, one year of general medical training and three years of ophthalmology training.  Upon the successful completion of ophthalmology training, an individual can apply to take a two part examination to become Board Certified.  The first part is a written examination and if successfully passed, the individual can take an oral examination. In these exams, a variety of questions are posed about different clinical scenarios throughout the various sub-specialties of ophthalmology. If the individual passes both parts of the examination, he or she is awarded Board Certification status.  This status is good for 10 years at which time the individual must retest to maintain certification.

How often should I have my eyes examined?

At Harvard Eye Associates, we recommend that all people should have periodic and thorough eye examinations as part of routine primary care, especially since many eye diseases are asymptomatic. Diseases and conditions of the eye can often be treated successfully if caught early.

People with special risks, such as diabetes, a previous eye trauma, surgery or a family history of glaucoma, may need an eye exam more frequently. People with symptoms of eye trouble should see an eye doctor right away. But, in general, the recommended frequency of comprehensive eye examinations for people without symptoms or special risk factors is:

Age Caucasian African-American
20-39 Every 3 - 5 years Every 2 - 4 years
40-64 Every 2 - 4 years Every 2 - 4 years
65 or older Every 1 - 2 years Every 1 - 2 years

What happens during an eye examination?

An eye examination is a battery of tests performed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist assessing vision and ability to focus on and discern objects, as well as other tests and examinations pertaining to the eyes. Eye examinations may detect potentially treatable blinding eye diseases, ocular manifestations of systemic disease, or signs of tumors or other anomalies of the brain.

What is nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism?

These frequent conditions are termed by eye care professionals as "refractive errors." Nearsightedness (myopia) means you can see better up close than you can at far distances. Farsightedness (hyperopia) means that you can see better far away than you can close up. Astigmatism is an imperfection in the shape of the cornea causing distortion of vision in addition to blurring of vision. Astigmatism may occur along with either myopia or hyperopia. Read more about refractive errors.

What is glaucoma and who is at risk?

Glaucoma is an eye disorder in which the optic nerve suffers damage, permanently damaging vision in the affected eye(s) and progressing to complete blindness if untreated. It is often, but not always, associated with increased pressure of the fluid in the eye (aqueous humour).

Those of African descent are three times more likely to develop primary open angle glaucoma. Elderly people have thinner corneal thickness and are also at higher risk for primary open angle glaucoma. People with a family history of glaucoma have about six percent chance of developing glaucoma. Many East Asian groups are prone to developing angle closure glaucoma due to their shallower anterior chamber depth. Inuit also have a twenty to forty times higher risk than Caucasians of developing primary angle closure glaucoma. Women are three times more likely than men to develop acute angle-closure glaucoma due to their shallower anterior chambers. Read more about glaucoma.

What are cataracts and who gets them?

A cataract is a clouding that develops in the crystalline lens of the eye or in its envelope, varying in degree from slight to complete opacity and obstructing the passage of light. Early in the development of age-related cataract the power of the lens may be increased, causing nearsightedness (myopia), and the gradual yellowing and opacification of the lens may reduce the perception of blue colors. Cataracts typically progress slowly to cause vision loss and are potentially blinding if untreated.

In the United States, age-related lenticular changes have been reported in 42% of those between the ages of 52 to 64, 60% of those between the ages 65 and 74, and 91% of those between the ages of 75 and 85. Read more about cataracts.

What are premium lens implants?

If cataract surgery is the best treatment for you, there are now premium lens implant options that offer your best possible visual result. This procedure uses the same technique practiced during routine cataract surgery, a process that involves the surgical removal of the natural lens inside the eye. The cataract is then replaced with an artificial lens implant that has been specifically designed to provide quality near to distance vision, correct astigmatism, or provide distance and intermediate vision. Read more about premium lens implants.

What are floaters inside the eye?

Floaters are deposits of various size, shape, consistency, refractive index, and motility within the eye's vitreous humour, which is normally transparent. They may be of embryonic origin or acquired due to degenerative changes of the vitreous humour or retina. Floaters are suspended in the vitreous humour, the thick fluid or gel that fills the eye. Thus, they generally follow the rapid motions of the eye, while drifting slowly within the fluid. When they are first noticed, the natural reaction is to attempt to look directly at them. However, attempting to shift one's gaze toward them can be difficult since floaters follow the motion of the eye, remaining to the side of the direction of gaze. Floaters are visible only because they do not remain perfectly fixed within the eye. Although the blood vessels of the eye also obstruct light, they are invisible under normal circumstances because they are fixed in location relative to the retina, and the brain "tunes out" stabilized images due to neural adaptation. This stabilization is often interrupted by floaters, especially when they tend to remain visible. read more about floaters.

What is dry eye syndrome (DES) and how is it treated?

Dry eye syndrome (DES), also called keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), keratitis sicca, or xerophthalmia is an eye disease caused either decreased tear production or increased tear film evaporation. Typical symptoms of keratoconjunctivitis sicca are dryness, burning and a sandy-gritty eye irritation that gets worse as the day goes on. Symptoms may also be described as itchy, scratchy, stingy or tired eyes. Other symptoms are pain, redness, a pulling sensation, and pressure behind the eye. There may be a feeling that something, such as a speck of dirt, is in the eye. The resultant damage to the eye surface increases discomfort and sensitivity to bright light. Both eyes usually are affected. A variety of approaches can be taken to treatment. These can be summarized as: avoidance of exacerbating factors, tear stimulation and supplementation, increasing tear retention, and eyelid cleansing and treatment of eye inflammation. Read more about dry eye syndrome.

What affect does diabetes have on the eye?

Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the retina caused by complications of diabetes mellitus, which can eventually lead to blindness. It is an ocular manifestation of systemic disease which affects up to 80% of all patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or more. Despite these intimidating statistics, research indicates that at least 90% of these new cases could be reduced if there was proper and vigilant treatment and monitoring of the eyes. Read more about diabetic retinopathy.

What is macular degeneration?

Age related macular degeneration is a medical condition which usually affects older adults that results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field (the macula) because of damage to the retina. It occurs in "dry" and "wet" forms. It is a major cause of visual impairment in older adults (>50 years). Macular degeneration can make it difficult or impossible to read or recognize faces, although enough peripheral vision remains to allow other activities of daily life. Read more about macular degeneration.

What is keratoconus - can it be treated?

Keratoconus is an uncommon degeneration of the structure of the cornea, the clear tissue covering the front of the eye. Structural changes within the cornea cause it to thin and bulge from its normal round shape to a cone shape. Keratoconus is a slowly progressive condition often presenting in the teen or early twenties with decreased vision or visual distortion.  This condition is typically not associated with redness, inflammation or other acute symptoms and therefore may go undetected for long periods of time. Read more about keratoconus.

What is pterygium and how it it removed?

Pterygium (also called Surfer's Eye) is a non-cancerous growth of the clear, thin tissue that lays over the white part of the eye (conjunctiva). One or both eyes may be involved. A pterygium commonly grows from the nasal side of the sclera. It is usually present in the palpebral fissure. It is thought to be caused by ultraviolet-light exposure (e.g., sunlight), low humidity, and dust. Harvard Eye Associates specializes in a highly advanced technique for removing pterygium. Read more about pterygium removal.

What about Plaquenil drug side-effects?

Plaquenil is a drug used as an anti-inflammatory medication which is helpful in certain rheumatological conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. It is recommended to have an eye examination at least once a year to look for signs of toxicity. Visual changes may include blurred vision, decreased color vision, distorted vision, blind spots in the vision, and halos around lights. Monitoring the vision between examinations with an Amsler Grid may help an individual to pick up a problem with the vision early. The retina may take on a specific appearance when it is being adversely affected by Plaquenil. Read more about Plaquenil drug side-effects.

What is LASIK?

LASIK is currently one of the most frequently performed elective procedures in North America for correcting myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. LASIK is a viable alternative to wearing corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses for many patients. This procedure, performed by ophthalmologists and trained LASIK surgeons, uses a cool beam of light from the excimer laser to gently reshape the front surface (cornea) of your eye. The surgeon creates a corneal flap on the surface of the eye that is peeled back to allow the excimer laser to begin reshaping. Read more about LASIK.

Am I a good candidate for LASIK?

In order to determine your candidacy for LASIK surgery or any other form of vision correction surgery, you need to have a screening exam at our office. During this visit, which typically takes about 30-45 minutes, you will undergo special tests that will determine if you are a candidate for LASIK laser vision correction surgery and what is the safest and the most effective procedure for you. The screening process for LASIK surgery is virtually painless, and you can rest assured you're in expert hands with our professional staff. To start your process, take this online LASIK self-evaluation.

Are there alternatives to LASIK?

LASIK surgery is not for everyone. However, if you are not a candidate for LASIK, you may be a candidate for an alternative procedure. Your alternatives may include: Implantable Contact Lens, Clear Lensectomy, PRK or perhaps no surgery at all. Only a comprehensive screening exam can determine your candidacy, so call us to schedule an appointment with our surgeon today. We'll work with your schedule to find a time that is suitable for you, even if it's on your lunch break.

What are implantable contact lenses?

Two of the most popular vision correction surgeries available today are implantable contact lenses (ICLs) and LASIK. Harvard Eye Associates can help you determine which procedure is best for your unique vision. Implantable contact lenses correct vision in much the same way that external contact lenses do, except ICLs are placed inside the eye where they permanently improve vision. Read more about implantable contact lenses.

What is BOTOX® Cosmetic used for?

BOTOX® Cosmetic is a prescription medicine that is injected into muscles and used to improve the look of moderate to severe frown lines between the eyebrows (glabellar lines) in people 18 to 65 years of age for a short period of time (temporary).

Is BOTOX® Cosmetic safe?

There has not been a single confirmed serious case of spread of toxin effect away from the injection site when BOTOX® has been used at the recommended dose to treat chronic migraine, severe underarm sweating, blepharospasm, or strabismus, or when BOTOX® Cosmetic has been used at the recommended dose to treat frown lines.

*Please Note:

Not all questions are answered directly by the physicians of Harvard Eye Associates. This website is designed to provide general information about vision, vision care and vision correction, is not a substitute for a medical exam, diagnosis or treatment regarding an ophthalmology question.

Please do not disregard or delay medical treatment because of material you might have read on this website. If you have a medical problem, please contact Harvard Eye Associates immediately and schedule an appointment for an eye exam. If your case is an emergency, please dial 911. 


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Harvard Eye Associates
Laguna Hills Office

Map and Directions
24401 Calle de la Louisa
Suites 300-312
Laguna Hills, California 92653

949-951-2020
FAX: 949-356-1660
Harvard Eye Associates
San Clemente Office

Map and Directions
665 Camino de los Mares
Suites 102-103
San Clemente, California 92673

949-493-5411
FAX: 949-356-1660

The eye doctors of Harvard Eye Associates perform advanced technology diagnostic testing and treatment, as well as taking the time necessary to provide each patient with information needed to fully understand his or her condition and to achieve the best possible visual outcome.

If you or a family member or friend have not had a recent routine eye examination, have a specific eye condition that needs addressing, or are looking for an eye specialist, second opinion, or professional eye consultant please take a moment to Request an Appointment.

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When exciting improvements in a current technique or product are introduced to the ophthalmic world, Harvard Eye Associates is often involved in the related clinical studies.

As a trusted, advanced clinical research study center, Harvard Eye Assoicates makes it possible to offer qualifying patients access to advancements in eye care not yet available to the general public.

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Ask The Eye Doctor

If you have questions about your eyes, Harvard Eye Associates is here with the information you need.

We've dedicated sections of our website expressly to list of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers, covering cataract surgery, glaucoma, retina, LASIK, macular degeneration, dry eyes and more, plus an online form where you may submit questions directly to an eye doctor.

Please click below to have your questions about vision answered.


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Internationally regarded as the go-to specialist in eye care, Harvard Eye offers a combined experience of over 100 years and over 100,000 surgical procedures. The doctors of Harvard Eye Associates have treated virtually every known eye condition there is, plus a few previously unknown.


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Before Your Visit

Whether you or a loved one are having a first eye exam, a repeat eye exam, or are seeing a new eye doctor at Harvard Eye for the first time, there are a number of routine questions you can expect.

Your answers to these questions during eye exams are anything but routine for your eye doctor, so you may want to arrive prepared.


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Meet Our Patients

Read testimonials and watch videos of actual Harvard Eye Associates patients who have benefited from our professionalism, dedication, and commitment to high quality patient care.

Our offices provide patients with all eye care needs from routine eye exams to complex surgical procedures.

We are both proud and grateful that our patients have chosen to trust their vision with Harvard Eye!


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Volunteer work is extremely important to Harvard Eye Associates. Twice yearly, we travel the world to teach and perform surgery to people who have no other resources, and have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to providing medical training and supplies to developing countries.


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