Our Team

Dennis Bales, OD

Board-certified Optometrist • Practices in the Santa Ynez Valley

Dr. Bales received his undergraduate B.S. in Optometry in 1973 and OD in 1975 from UC Berkley. He practiced in Santa Barbara before taking over his current practice in 1988 in Solvang.

He is a current member of the American Optometric Association, California OA and Tri County OA, and  also a member of the Vision Source, an international group of Optometrists who share common goals of professional practice.

Dr. Bales is locally involved with the Solvang Breakfast Rotary as well as being a Board member of the Elverhoj Museum. He is a supporter of the People Helping People program, helping local Valley residents achieve self-sufficiency through various resources. In his spare time he likes traveling, hiking and biking.

Tim Nelson, OD

Board-certified Optometrist • Practices in both the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria Valley

Dr. Nelson received his undergraduate B.S. in Vision Science in 1988 and Doctor of Optometry (OD) in 1990 from Pacific University. He holds a California Therapeutic License with Glaucoma Certification and an Oregon Advanced Therapeutics with Injections License.

He served as an optometrist and Flight Commander in the U.S. Air Force for over 20 years, winning USAF Space Command’s “Optometrist of the Year” Award 4 times, and training over 100 optometry graduate interns.

Dr. Nelson has provided humanitarian eye care for over 1,500 patients in remote corners of the world. He has lived on the Central Coast for 8 years and enjoys the many activities it has to offer.

Rami Zarnegar, MD

Board-certified Ophthalmologist • Practices in the Santa Ynez, Santa Maria Valley • Performs surgeries at Santa Ynez Cottage Hospital & Santa Maria facilities

Using the latest in laser and surgical techniques, Dr. Zarnegar specializes in Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery (LACS), pterygium and eyelid plastic surgery as well as vision correction surgery including Custom LASIK, Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) and other intraocular lens implants. Dr. Zarnegar has been providing comprehensive surgical eye care, including glaucoma, to Central Coast residents since 1996.


Dr. Zarnegar received his Medical Doctor degree from St. Louis University, where he also completed his residency in ophthalmology. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Santa Clara University, and pursued post-graduate studies in biology at San Jose State and Stanford universities. Dr. Zarnegar serves as an adjunct Professor of Ophthalmology at Touro University College of Medicine where he teaches medical students. He also directs the ophthalmology training program for family practice residents at Dignity Health’s Marian Regional Medical Center.


Dedicated to the eye care profession, Dr. Zarnegar is an active Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and a member of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. Always staying current with medical advancements and technology, each year Dr. Zarnegar teaches many Central Coast optometrists about eye diseases and new advancements in eye care. He continues to participate in FDA clinical studies in order to advance the field of ophthalmology and to bring cutting edge medical and surgical technology to the Central Coast.


Dr. Zarnegar and his family enjoy living on the Central Coast, and play a vibrant and active role in their community.


Optometric Tech

Nick has worked in the office since August 2017, providing friendly assistance to patients and doctors alike as an optometric tech. Nick enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching movies and exercising. Nick is studying computer science at Allan Hancock and plans to transfer to a 4 year university.


Optometric Tech

Paulina has been a part of our team since 2018 she received her medical assisting certificate in 2018. She enjoys providing assistance to patients and providers as an Optometric Tech. During her free time she enjoys spending time with her friends and family.



Skip has been in the business for over 35 years and a member of Dr. Bales’ staff for over 10 years as a Medical Board of California licensed Spectacle Lens Dispenser. His duties include assisting patients in selecting frames and lenses best suited for their needs. On a personal note, Skip has lived locally for over 30 years and is married with 3 grown children and 4 grandchildren, who also live locally. Besides his family and work, Skip’s other passion is his golf game.


Front Office

Maria has been a member of Dr. Bales’ staff since 2004, working the front desk, making appointments, invoicing, billing and assisting the patients any way she can. Se habla español. Maria has two children and enjoys spending time with family and friends.


Front Office

Nelly is happy to assist patients with scheduling appointments, performing OCT testing, and answering any questions patients may have. She also stays busy helping patients select and adjust their glasses. Se habla español. Nelly likes to spend time with family and friends. She has a passion for fashion and loves to go shopping in her free time!


Front Office

Ron heads up compliance, marketing and EHR software integration efforts as well as filling in as an overflow Optometric Tech. He enjoys going to exotic locales around the world, playing bridge, hiking, and working in his garden.

Please reload