Eye Surgery part of Family Business at Zeiter Eye Medical Group

Dr.-Joey    By Rhashad R. Pittman

The cataracts that clouded his eyes were so bad that when he held his fingers in front of him, he could not see them. He hadn’t seen his dear wife in six years and never saw his grandchildren.
A Mexican immigrant who settled in the Stockton area with his family, the man was one of 20 to 30 patients Dr. Joseph Zeiter, Jr. treats every day at the Zeiter Eye Medical Group. To remove the cataracts, Joseph performed surgery on the lens of the man’s eyes to remove the clouding.
Joseph recalled that when it came time to take off the bandage across his eyes, the man’s entire family waited by his side, from his wife to his grandchildren, who were toddlers. As the man’s eyes adjusted to the light in the room, the images before him became clearer and clearer. He saw his beloved wife, his grandchildren, and everyone else he held dear to his heart.
Then tears began to fall from his eyes.
For more than 50 years, the Zeiter     family has been giving residents of San Joaquin County the gift of sight. It all started with Henry Zeiter, who founded Zeiter Eye Medical Group, Inc. in 1962 after completing a residency in ophthalmology at the prestigious Kresge Eye Institute.
Since then, three other Zeiters have joined the practice: Joseph Zeiter, John Zeiter, and Joseph’s son, Joseph Zeiter, Jr.  Treating eye disease is the family business.
“We’re glad to be able to do what we do,” Joseph Jr. said. “We love our practice. We love our patients.”
Joseph Jr. can still recall as a boy being out at dinner with his family, and patients of his father and great uncle would walk over to their table to tell them thank you again for treating their eye conditions. Often times, they had tears in their eyes.
“Seeing how grateful people were to my father and uncle for restoring their vision had a profound effect,” Joseph Jr. said. “It was something I wanted to be able to do also.”
In addition to its seven eye surgeons, the Zeiter Eye also has six optometrists and support staff while offering a number of services, which include cataracts, glaucoma and retina issues at its various locations in Stockton, Lodi, Manteca and Tracy.
Each year they treat thousands of patients, many of whom are Latino and Spanish speaking. Because of this, most of the staff at Zeiter Eye is bilingual, including Joseph Zeiter, Jr.
Joseph Jr. earned his bachelor’s degree from University of California, San Diego before attending medical school for four years at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. After completing an internship at University of Arizona in Tucson, he attended the Kresge Eye Institute in Detroit in 2012.
In addition to attending medical school, Joseph Jr. studied Spanish. He can still recall his father and great uncle Henry telling him he needed to learn Spanish if he was going to practice in this area. His father was born and raised in Venezuela until he was 16. Speaking Spanish to his patients came naturally.
To sharpen his own Spanish skills, Joseph Jr. completed a six-week externship in Medellin, Colombia before joining Zeiter Eye in 2012. Those skills have come in handy, he says, noting that half of his patients are Latino and many of them are Spanish-speaking.
In addition his regular patients, Joseph Jr. and staff also volunteer their time and services to treat local, uninsured residents who have severe eye conditions as part of a community service program Zeiter Eye has been offering for decades.
“The best lesson that I’ve learned is to be humble,” Joseph Jr. said. “People appreciate a humble, honest doctor more than anything else.”

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