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Our Doctors Of Optometry

Our Eye doctors (optometrists) are committed to providing EXCELLENT care for you and your family! Please read below to find out more about the professional certifications and qualifications of our optometrists (eye doctors). If you are looking for an Optometrist in Raleigh, Durham, Burlington, Fayetteville, or Wilmington, NC, our four office locations near Lenscrafters are conveniently located to serve you.

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Dr. Naheed Kassam

Dr. Naheed Kassam not only finds personal satisfaction by diagnosing and treating his patient’s visual problems but also enjoys interacting and learning more about his patients lives.

Dr. Kassam grew up in the serene majestic rocky mountain beauty of Alberta, Canada where he finished his undergraduate work at the University of Alberta and moved to Philadelphia to complete his Doctor of Optometry Degree at the Pennsylvania College Of Optometry. While doing an Internship in Wilmington, NC, Doctor Kassam was captivated by the natural beauty that North Carolina had to offer and could not resist moving within it’s borders once he realized how accommodating, kind and friendly North Carolinians are to each other and to their neighbors.

When he is not seeing patients at The Eye Center, you will find Dr. Kassam enjoying the outdoors and participating in sports activities. He enjoys running, vollyeball, basketball and is a Carolina Hurricaine HOCKEY FAN. But Dr. Kassam has to say that his main obsession in life is his son Arman , who keeps him on his toes at all times!

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Dr. Mojgan Besharat

Dr. Besharat is the eye doctor to come to in the Durham area for great eye care! She earned her Doctor of Optometry degree from Pennsylvania College in 1997, where she received clinical honors. Prior to this, she obtained a B.Sc. in Physiology from the University of Maryland – College Park in 1993.

Dr. Besharat has been a part of The Eye Center since 2005 and has been practicing in the lovely state of North Carolina since 1997. Her area of specialty is in Primary care optometry, anterior segment diagnosis and treatment of diseases, uveitis, injuries, and infections. She is highly skilled in the Co-management of cataract and refractive surgeries as well as posterior segment diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration as well as other disorders of the retina. Additionally, her specialties include routine contact lens fitting.

Dr. Besharat is originally from Iran and migrated to Colorado with her parents during her elementary school years. Dr. Besharat grew up in Denver, Colorado and had the good fortune of living in Keystone, Colorado during her teen years. She is a very service-oriented individual who believes in helping others. Medicine interests her and the field of optometry fascinated her while an undergrad. It was an easy and fluid transition from undergrad to optometry school.

Helping individuals achieve better vision and maintain good eye health is always rewarding. Dr. Besharat’s most memorable experience has been serving under-served populations in getting basic eye care. It is truly rewarding for her to help individuals who do not have access to eye care, not only see better but improve and maintain their eye health. Her charitable work gained her a service award from the OneSight organization where she served at a volunteer clinic in Lima, Peru in 2012.

Dr. Besharat loves the outdoors, regardless of the season. She is an avid skier and tries to enjoy the slopes with her son at least once or twice a season. She loves traveling and experiencing new places and getting to know people. She enjoys hiking in the fall and spring with her son and hitting the lovely North Carolina beaches at least two or three times in the summer season. She also loves to run, and tries to run 3K at least three times a week, weather permitting. She is also an avid reader.

Her family consists of her son Arman who is a high school student and their dogs Storm and Winston. They have lived in Durham since 2005 and love being part of the community.

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Dr. Shirin Esmail

Shirin Esmail Bsc, OD, an Eye Center Optometrist since 2007 has been practicing optometry for 12 years and stands ready to help you with all your primary care optometry needs. Those needs include the treatment of Dry Eye and Pediatrics as well as the management of Ocular Disease. From the first meeting, Dr. Esmail will listen to your needs, concerns and educate you on all the options. She will walk you through the entire process, from diagnosis, to treatment to cure. This combination of personal touch and expertise coupled with constant communication ensures that her patients are in the best hands, and brightens the days ahead with lifelong clear vision and healthy eyes.

Dr Esmail’s extensive experience with Lasik makes her an authority in co-managing pre and post op, as well as other refractive surgery co management. Dr. Esmail is also eager to help with all Contact Lens fitting as well as any urgent care you might require.

Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Dr. Esmail attended the University of Calgary for undergraduate studies. She then progressed in her studies and graduated from the New England College of Optometry in Boston, Massachusetts, in 2003, gradating with honors. Post her graduation, and residency in Ocular disease at the Baltimore VA Medical Center, Dr Esmail moved to North Carolina with her husband, also an Optometrist.

Dr. Esmail graduated with Honors from NEWENCO (beta sigma kappa) and is an active member of the North Carolina State Optometric Society and the American Optometric Association.

In her private time, Dr. Esmail enjoys reading, traveling, cooking, and spending time with family

Dr. Esmail has been to El Salvador providing those with Eye Care needs. She aspires to continue providing eye care to people in need , both locally and abroad.

Her family consists of her Husband, 4 Year old Son and a pair of 1 year old twin girls.

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Dr. Geeta Chowdhary

Dr. Geeta Chowdhary was born and raised in beautiful Kenya. In 1997, she completed a Bachelors degree in Optometry at Aston University in Birmingham, England where she practiced before moving to the United States with her husband. She further completed her Doctor of Optometry Degree in 2003 graduating with Honors, from the New England College of Optometry in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2004, Dr. Chowdhary then went on to pursue a Residency in Primary Care and Ocular Disease Management at the Veteran Affairs Brockton/Worcester Divisions in MA. She was attracted by the warmth and natural beauty of North Carolina and moved to the area in late 2005 where she resides with her husband and son.

Dr. Chowdhary joined The Eye Center in September 2009. She performs comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, ocular disease management and caring for acute and urgent ocular conditions. She is dedicated to caring for her patients, addressing their concerns and questions, and ensuring that she explains and communicates her findings to her patients. Her professional goal is to establish a positive relationship with her patients so that together they can work towards maintaining and preserving optimum eye health and vision.

Dr. Chowdhary has been an active member of the North Carolina State Optometric and Eastern District Societies and the American Optometric Association.

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Dr. Glenn Middleton

Dr. Glenn Middleton graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry. Coming to The Eye Center, Dr. Middleton brings more than 19 years of experience in optometric practice. This first seven years of practice were spent in a highly reputable ophthalmological practice in Southern Georgia, emphasizing pre- and post-surgical care of various eye surgeries like cataracts, refractive surgery, eye muscle surgery and glaucoma.

In 1997, Dr. Middleton moved to the beautiful state of North Carolina, where he has been part of several group practices around the state. He has enjoyed caring for his patients, many of whom have diabetes, high blood pressure, cataracts and glaucoma including a host of other medical and visual conditions.

It is Dr. Middleton’s goal to provide a thorough, memorable, and comprehensive eye examination that leaves many a patient at the end of the exam exclaiming ” Wow! I have never had an eye exam like that before!”

During his leisure time, you will find Dr. Middleton spending quality time with Cathy, his wife of 23 Years, and three boys and one girl in the great outdoors. He enjoys hiking, cycling, snow skiing, water skiing just to name a few activities. Dr. Middleton is an avid outdoorsman who has visited over 100 U.S. national parks and counting!

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Dr. Thomas Walent III

Dr. Thomas Walent has recently graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 2011. Prior to entering Optometry school, he attended King’s College in his hometown of Wilkes-Barre, PA, receiving a dual Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Neuroscience. Dr. Walent spent the following two years conducting scientific research at the National Institutes of Health in Baltimore, MD, with the emphasis of his research studying the neurological pathways involved in ALS and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Walent has performed optometric internships in Wilkes-Barre, PA, Greenville, NC, Philadelphia, PA, and Wilmington, NC. He completed his Optometric Residency at the Veteran’s Health Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA, specializing in the Treatment and Management of Ocular Disease. He joined The Eye Center in Wilmington, NC in August 2012. Dr. Walent’s passion is practicing medical optometry. He takes great pride in establishing a personal and friendly relationship with his patients while providing the highest level of eye care.

Outside of the office, Dr. Walent enjoys weight training, golfing, and enjoying the coastal Carolina lifestyle by spending time relaxing at the beach.

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Dr. Kevin Ritter

After practicing optometry for almost nine years in the Hillsborough/Chapel Hill area, Dr. Kevin Ritter joined The Eye Center in April 2014. He received his undergraduate degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and completed his optometric training at the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee in 2005.

Dr. Ritter is a native of North Carolina who enjoys spending his free time with his wife and son, watching the TarHeels play football in Kenan Stadium, being active in his local church, and working in his vegetable garden. He practices full-scope optometry including adult and pediatric primary care, contact lens fittings, and treatment of ocular disease.

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Dr. Rena Pate

Dr. Pate adds another dimension in optometry in her work at the Eye Center. Her focus is Primary Care with a focus on Contact Lens and Ocular disease. She received her Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Bio Chemistry from Baylor University in 2001 and a Doctorate of Optometry from the University of Houston College of Optometry in 2005.

Originally hailing from Shreveport, Louisiana, Dr. Pate has been practicing optometry for 10 years. Her interest in Optometry comes from watching her and uncle practice at their primary care facility in Louisiana.

In her spare time Dr. Pate enjoys time with her family, traveling, running, and snow skiing. She is an active member of the North Carolina State Optometric Society, Eastern District as well as the Optometric Association, and the American Optometric Association.

Her husband is a retina specialist here in Raleigh, and they have two beautiful, active young sons.

Dr. Pate looks forward to serving you at the Eye Center and establishing a long term relationship with you.

Dr. Nima Naik

Dr. Nima Naik looks forward to making your Eye story a great one. She will do so through education and addressing all your day to day needs.

Dr. Naik attended both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as well as the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. She has been practicing optometry for 12 years and has gained Clinical Honors and a Marchon Award.

Nima grew up in Fayetteville, NC, and made her way through Philadelphia for school, via Washington and Virginia for work and now is back at home in North Carolina. She now lives in Raleigh.

Dr. Naik’s yearning to help patients is exemplified by her affiliation as a volunteer with OneSight for over 10 years in their charitable clinics, providing eyecare and new eyewear for the less fortunate, and now sustainable clinics, where OneSight equips a permanent vision center and teaches local partners to provide permanent eye care and materials to their community.

Outside of work, Nima enjoys Home Improvement projects, International Travel and spending time with her family, especially her two nieces.

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Dr. Jigna Patel

Dr. Jigna Patel brings a fresh approach to Eye Care, with her specialties being Dry Eye and contact Lens fitting. Practicing Optometry since 2012, Dr. Patel graduated from the Salus College of Optometry in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. She possesses commendations for clinical excellence in the areas of Primary Care, Ocular Disease and Contact Lenses.

Born in London, UK and moving to Plymouth, NC as a youngster she calls North Carolina home. Her interest in the health care field grew when she was involved in several internships during High School.

Dr. Patel never sought out to work in the optometry field until she worked a part time job as a technician during college, which only increased her interest. The opportunity gave her the chance to be mentored by several influential ODs that helped shape her career path. She was extremely fascinated by the duality of Vision and Perception of Optometry and Ocular and Systemic health. Being able to help patients and communicate with their families affirmed that it was the best decision she ever made.

Her decision is supported by personal stories like this:

An elderly 90-something gentleman came in for a routine exam and his glasses were about a decade old. He had a history for terminal cancer, but you’d never know it with his quick wit, energy, and humor. After the exam I summarized that his eyes were in relatively great shape and health, and with some new glasses he’d be able to see substantially better. The patient took my hand, smiled with his heart, looked at me, and said, “Now, Doc, I thank you. I really do. I appreciate science and medicine and admire what you do. But I want to tell you that I was told 10 years ago that I had 1 month to live. And I am enjoying every day looking at that same gorgeous woman of mine of more than 70 years,” (pointing to his wife in the distance)…then he smiled big and turned to me, grabbed my hands, and said to me, “I’m here until HE says it’s time to close my eyes!” —- Boy did he preach to ME that day!

Outside of work, Dr. Patel enjoys going to the gym, dance, and seasonal sports such as volleyball and swimming. She enjoy dining out and the culinary experience. She also enjoys drawing, painting, Do It Yourself home projects and crafts, as well as enjoying time with friends and family.

Her strong commitment to core values of services and her commitment to the greater good underscore the importance of giving back to the community. A personal family mission trip to Tanzania in 2013, further piqued her interest and enthusiasm for mission trips with OneSight.

Dr. Patel looks forward to getting involved with area schools/organizations in the course of speaking engagements and doing school screening exams, and /or health fairs. She believes that getting out and about with your work to help the community is very rewarding.

Dr. Patel’s family, for the most part lives out of the state or abroad in London, Africa and India. She enjoys using the modern technologies to keep in touch, and even admits to using Skype a bit too much.

She also speaks Gujarati and Spanish.

All in all, Dr. Patel welcomes you to The Eye Center and looks forward to tending to your Eye needs.

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Dr. Zach Engle

Dr. Zach Engle graduated from Wake Forest University with a BS in Biochemistry and a Minor in Biology in 2008. He graduated from the Southern College of Optometry in 2012. Dr. Engle has been granted an Eagle Vision Award and a 2nd Year Basic Science Award. His specialties are Primary Care, Contact Lenses, and Anterior Segment Disease. He has been practicing for 3 years.

 

Dr. Engle was born in Pitsburgh, PA but has spent the last 15+ years in NC. He always knew that he wanted to work in medicine and choosing optometry was a way to help people without overworking himself. When he was on a SVOSH (SVOSH at SCO is the student chapter of VOSH International (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity located at Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee) trip in Belarus, he provided a 10 year old girl who was very nearsighted with her first pair of glasses and she broke down with tears of joy the first time she could see the world.

 

Zach enjoys spending time with his wife Meghan and son Malcom who is 19 months old, watching Wake Forest Sports teams, Hiking. Golfing. Playing and Watching Ice Hockey. The Engle’s also have 2 Puppies Oliver and Ellie.

 

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Dr. Mark Salopek

Dr. Salopek was born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh). He earned his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Notre Dame in 1988 and Doctor of Optometry from the University of Houston College of Optometry in 1993. Valuable clinical experience was gained during externships at Braverman Eye Center in Hallandale, Florida and Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. He graduated a member of the Beta Sigma Kappa Honors Fraternity for Optometry.

Dr. Salopek practiced in Jensen Beach, Florida for eleven years before relocating to Raleigh and joining The Eye Center Doctors of Optometry, P.A. in 2016. He is a member of the American Optometric Association and North Carolina State Optometric Society.

He serves all family members eye care needs from pediatrics to diagnosis and treatment of eye disease and contact lenses.

Dr. Salopek’s hobbies include ice hockey and bass fishing.