Click on a topic below for further information...

Do I need an eye exam?

YES! By dilating your pupils and looking inside the eyes, eye professionals are able to detect early signs of health and sight-threatening diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Together with other tests, eye professionals can also detect neurological disease and glaucoma, a potentially blinding disease if left untreated. Early detection and prevention are crucial to the successful treatment of these diseases.

It is recommended that young, healthy individuals have their eyes examined at least once every two years if they are not a contact lens wearer and annually if they are. Waiting until something is wrong with your eyes before having them examined is analogous to waiting until you have a heart attack to find out that you have heart disease. So schedule an eye exam appointment if you haven’t already done so.

What are the differences in Contact Lens Types?

Confused about the different types of contacts lenses? What is the difference between "hard" and "soft" lenses? What are "disposable" lenses? Can contacts correct astigmatism? Are there contacts designed to be worn overnight? To sort out the confusion, let's discuss the basic types of contact lenses.

Rigid gas permeable lenses (RGPs) are generally the healthiest for your eye. RGPs allow for good tear exchange under the lens and a good supply of oxygen to the eye. These lenses provide excellent vision, and can even correct astigmatism. RGPs are relatively comfortable to wear, easy to put on and take off, simple to care for, relatively inexpensive and have a long life. Adaptation may take longer than other types of contacts. Consistent wear to maintain adaptation is a requirement. Wearing lenses on an occasional basis may be difficult. Replacing a lost RGP takes a few days, as all RGPs are custom made.

Daily-wear soft lenses, on the other hand, require a much shorter adaptation period and can be worn on an occasional basis. They are more difficult to dislodge than RGPs and debris does not get under the lens as easily. These lenses are relatively inexpensive and can be tinted to change the color of your eyes. Vision with daily wear soft lenses may not be as sharp as with RGPs. Handling of these lenses may not be as easy. These lenses should be replaced at least once a year.

Disposable/Planned Replacement soft lenses are very similar to the daily-wear soft lenses. However, disposable contacts are disposed of and replaced according to a wearing schedule, which may consist of throwing a pair of lenses away after 3 months, 1 month, 2 weeks or 1 day. Protein deposits, which often build up with time and cause eye problems, are less of an issue compared to daily wear lenses since lenses are discarded more frequently. A more simplified cleaning and disinfecting process may be used. Tearing or losing a lens is no big deal. Spare lenses are readily available. The main disadvantage is disposable lenses are more expensive than the daily wear.

Another sub-type of daily-wear and disposable/planned replacement soft lens is the toric soft lens, which corrects for astigmatism. The pros and cons are similar to daily wear and disposable soft lenses. The main difference is the fitting of these lenses is more difficult and requires more office visits. Also the astigmatism may not be corrected as well compared to astigmatism correction with a RGP.

Extended-wear lenses are RGP or soft lenses that can be worn overnight. Protein deposits and bacteria can build up on the lens, thus, increasing the risk for complications, such as eye infections. More frequent office visits are required for follow-up care. In general, extended wear contact lenses are not recommended.

This is just a brief overview of the basic types of lenses out there. Determining if contacts are right for you and which ones can help you depends on many factors, such as your prescription, the health of your eye, and lifestyle. A consultation with an eye care professional can help you make that decision.

What is Farsightedness?

Farsightedness, also known as hyperopia, is a visual condition where light is not focused on the back of the eye. Distant objects usually appear clear, but near objects may appear blurry. Some signs of farsightedness include eye strain, fatigue or headaches after close work, aching or burning eyes, or difficulty maintaining a clear focus of near objects.

If you or your child have experienced these signs, a comprehensive eye exam by your eye doctor can test for farsightedness. Eyeglasses or contact lenses can correct farsightedness by altering the way light falls on the back of the eye.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the US. Yet, glaucoma can be controlled with little or no further vision loss, if detected at an early stage and treated promptly. The disease process causes a loss of side vision that is painless and very gradual. Patients often do not even realize they are losing side vision, since central vision remains the same at 20/20. However, at later stages of glaucoma, there is potential to become completely blind. Vision loss by glaucoma cannot be recovered.

Comprehensive eye exams can detect glaucoma in its early stages. During the exam, your eye doctor should check the pressure of both eyes. Though there is an association of glaucoma with high eye pressure, glaucoma can occur in eyes with low pressure as well. Your eye doctor should check for the development of blind spots in your side vision. More importantly, an evaluation of the optic nerve head is needed to detect damage from glaucoma.

Glaucoma occurs more frequently in certain groups of people such as those who are over 40, diabetics, and people who are very nearsighted. Other risk factors include a family history of glaucoma, previous eye injuries and surgery, and high blood pressure. Despite the higher prevalence of glaucoma in these populations, anybody can develop glaucoma. Everybody needs to be tested during regular eye exams, even if your vision seems fine. There is no reason to lose vision from glaucoma. Treatment may be as easy as using pressure lowering eye drops.

It is basically up to you to protect your eyes from glaucoma. Have regular eye exams including glaucoma tests. Contact an eye care practitioner if you have any questions.

What is Nearsightedness?

Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, is a visual condition where light is not focused on the back of the eye. Distant objects appear blurry, but near objects appear clear.

Nearsightedness is very common in the U.S., affecting about 30 percent of the population. There is some evidence that nearsightedness is caused by too much near work. Nearsightedness is usually first found in school age children, especially while children are growing.

Signs of nearsightedness include trouble seeing the chalkboard in school or difficulty seeing distant objects like a TV.

If you or your child have experienced these signs, a comprehensive eye exam by your eye doctor can test for nearsightedness. Eyeglasses or contact lenses can correct nearsightedness by altering the way light falls on the back of the eye. You may only have to wear the optical correction for distant activities, such as watching movies.

See our Fees & Insurance Page

Cal Alumni Association Benefits:

Alumni with annual or life membership in the California Alumni Association receive special vision benefits through our 20/20 Plan.


Uc Berkeley Alumni with annual or life membership in the California Alumni Association receive special vision benefits through our 20/20 Plan.

Is Laser Vision Correction effective?

Over the past 25 years, studies with thousands of people have shown LASER VISION CORRECTION to be effective in reducing dependence on glasses and contacts. Of patients who have had LASER VISION CORRECTION surgery, approximately 99% with prior mild to moderate myopia are able to pass the drivers license vision test without corrective lenses.

Is Laser Vision Correction permanent?

Yes. The laser permanently reshapes the front of the eye (the cornea) and removes less tissue than the thickness of a human hair. The laser corrects for your refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism). However, reading glasses are expected due to normal aging of the eye in people over 45 years of age (presbyopia).

Is Laser Vision Correction safe?

Any kind of surgery carries some potential risk, but with LASER VISION CORRECTION surgery, there is a remarkably low rate of complications. Advances in technology have improved the safety profile of LASER VISION CORRECTION surgery.

Is Laser Vision Correction proven?

Since 1987, LASER VISION CORRECTION treatment has been successfully performed on over 20 million people in the United States alone. The FDA has conducted long and rigorous studies that have proven LASER VISION CORRECTION to be a safe and effective procedure. For details, please refer to the FDA website

What is "All-Laser LASIK" surgery and how is it performed?

LASIK combines the use of two technologies: the IntraLase and the STAR S4 IR Excimer Laser. "IntraLase" is a 100% blade-free approach to creating your LASIK flap – the thin flap of tissue that the surgeon folds back in order to perform your LASIK procedure. With the IntraLase method, tiny pulses of laser light, a quadrillionth of a second each, pass through the outer portion of your cornea and form a uniform layer of microscopic bubbles just beneath the surface of your eye. The exact dimensions are determined by your surgeon based on what’s best for your eye and are computer controlled for maximum precision that is not possible with a hand-held blade.

When it’s time for your LASIK treatment to be performed, your doctor easily lifts the flap to apply the LASIK treatment. When LASIK is complete, a flap created using the IntraLase method is uniquely able to “lock” back into place. Your eye then begins to rapidly heal.

The benefits of this procedure include enhanced safety and rapid visual rehabilitation.

How long will the Laser Vision Correction procedure actually take?

You will be at UC Berkeley Refractive Surgery Center for approximately 90 minutes. The time spent in the laser surgery suite with the surgeon is minutes. The actual laser treatment time is usually less than one minute per eye.

Can both eyes be done at the same time?

Due to the advanced technology used to perform LASER VISION CORRECTION, both eyes can be treated at the same time. Your best treatment options can be discussed with your optometrist.

When will I be able to return to work?

We advise patients to take 1 to 2 days off to ensure adequate recovery time. Many patients can return to near normal activities the day after the procedure. We will discuss with you any activities you should avoid during the immediate post-operative period.

What happens if my vision changes later on? Will UC Berkeley Refractive Surgery Center be there for me?

UC Berkeley Refractive Surgery Center offers an "Enhancement Commitment" for two years post-op. It is important to complete your post-op visits, including a comprehensive eye exam one year after surgery, and this valuable service will remain in effect.

How much does Laser Vision Correction cost at UC Berkeley Refractive Surgery Center?

A fee of $3000.00 per eye covers surgery and post-op care for one year, as well as any enhancement procedures for two years. UCB offers All Laser LASIK or PRK with Custom Wavefront Technology. We offer a $1000.00 ($500.00 per eye) discount to patients with Kaiser, VSP, EyeMed, and MES. Cal alumni, UC Berkeley faculty/staff and co-managed patients also receive this discount, which reduces the fee to $2500.00 per eye. Currently enrolled UC Berkeley students receive a double discount.

Will my insurance cover Laser Vision Correction?

Most insurance companies consider LASER VISION CORRECTION an elective procedure and therefore do not cover the surgery. Be sure to ask your vision coverage provider if you might be eligible for partial reimbursement. You may use your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA).

I'm concerned about getting the best possible care during the procedure. How qualified are UC Berkeley Refractive Surgery Center's doctors?

Our surgeons are board certified corneal refractive specialists who are among the best and most experienced refractive surgeons in the country. Please refer to the surgeon bios for more background information on our surgeons.

Why choose UC Berkeley Refractive Surgery Center for Laser Vision Correction?

The University of California at Berkeley provides the best refractive laser correction you can obtain. We are committed to the safest and most advanced techniques for correcting vision. The Refractive Surgery Center offers procedures in All-Laser LASIK and Photo-Refractive Keratectomy (PRK) with Custom/Wavefront treatment. The latest technologies for laser vision correction are employed, featuring the STAR S4 IR™ Excimer Laser System, the iDesign Advanced WaveScan Studio System™, the IntraLase iFS™ Laser, and the Oculus Pentacam™. The laser center's convenient location at the Meredith Morgan University Eye Center offers easy access for the public as well as university faculty, staff and students.

Our surgeons are clinical faculty members of the UC Berkeley School of Optometry, specialize in cornea and refractive surgery and have extensive experience, having performed thousands of ocular surgeries.

When you choose UC Berkeley Refractive Surgery Center for LASER VISION CORRECTION, you have the confidence of knowing that you are getting the best care at each step along the way to a successful laser vision surgery experience.

When should I bring my child in for an eye exam?

Ideally, a physician did a quick screening for your child for gross abnormalities at the hospital when your child was born. Vision for an infant is almost adult like before they are one year old.

We recommend that your child have their first eye exam at age six to eight months. A comprehensive eye exam can pick up subtle problems that, if left untreated, can cause severe, often irreversible vision loss.

Doesn’t my pediatrician take care of my child’s eye exams?

Pediatricians do screen for obvious problems in children. However, without a more thorough examination done by an eye care specialist, certain conditions can go on unnoticed.

Directions from Highway 24

Exit 51st Street/Telegraph Ave. and head north on Telegraph Ave. Turn left on Bancroft.

My child seems to have fine vision and will point out small things to me, so certainly a trip to the eye doctor is unnecessary?

Eye exams are recommended for children at an early age because eye conditions that can cause permanent vision loss may not be detected by watching a child's behavior.

It is not uncommon for the eye condition to exist in only one eye allowing the child to appear as if they have two normal eyes.

What is UV Radiation?

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the invisible high-energy rays from the sun that are just beyond the violet/blue end of the visible spectrum.

  • UV-A and UV-B cause damage to the eyes.
  • UV-C is absorbed by the ozone layer and does not reach the earth. Ultraviolet radiation reaches the eye not only from the sky but also by reflection from water, sand, snow and other bright surfaces.

What kinds of eye damage does UV Radiation cause?

Cataract: Cataracts are lens opacities caused by long term exposure to UV radiation. Lens opacities can potentially decrease vision.
Macular degeneration: Chronic UV exposure may contribute to the aging processes in the retina, including macular degeneration.
Pterygium: is a growth tissue on the white of the eye that may extend onto the clear cornea where it can block vision. It presents most commonly in people who work outdoors in the sun and wind, and is correlated to the amount of UV exposure.
Cancer: Cancer of the skin, including the eyelids and facial skin, is a well-known consequence of excessive UV exposure.
Photokeratitis: is a reversible sunburn of the cornea resulting from excessive UV-B exposure. It follows from spending long hours on the beach or snow without eye protection. It can be extremely painful for 1-2 days and can result in temporary loss of vision.

What is UV Radiation?

Protection from sunlight can be obtained by using a brimmed hat or UV-absorbing eyewear. Ultraviolet absorbing eyewear provides the greatest measure of UV protection, particularly if it has a wraparound design to limit entry of peripheral rays.

Ideally, all types of eyewear, including prescription spectacles and contact lenses should absorb most of the UV spectrum. UV absorption can be incorporated into nearly all optical materials currently in use, and does not interfere with vision.

Polarization or photosensitive darkenings are additional sunglass features that are useful for certain visual situations, but do not, by themselves, provide UV protection.

There is presently no uniform labeling of sunglasses that provides adequate information to the consumer. Labels should be examined carefully to ensure that the lenses purchased absorb at least of 99-100% of UVA and UVB.