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    Q&A: Nazanin Galehdari, OD Owner of EyeMax EyeCare, Murray, UT

    Opening cold, driving a Lamborghini, buying a house on the QT

    Where did you grow up?

    I was born in Iran, but I grew up in Salt Lake City. My father was a judge in Iran, my mom was a nurse and a hospital administrator—they were both from a well-educated family and for them education was very important. They decided that the best education was at a boarding school in England. I had a hard time being an only child separating from my parents, so the dropoff at the boarding school ended up keeping us in England for four years. While we were there, the revolution started. We have family in the United States and decided to come visit. When things escalated in Iran, we decided it was better to stay here. I was the only child in boarding school who got to go home at night—it didn’t sit well with the other kids. [Laughs] I was probably four years old, and it was very strict. That early regimented style of education and teaching was important because it set the foundation for me as to what I had to do. You put one foot in front of the other. There is no whining, there is no “I don’t wanna do this,” you do it. And you do it without complaining. It was a good time. I just didn’t want to sleep over there. [Laughs]

    How did you get from biology and chemistry to ocular diseases?

    I knew that by the end of my degree in biology that I did not want to pursue the degree any further. I’m a social person; I didn’t like rats and all the other animals you work with in the biology lab. I didn’t like test tubes or the smell of the chemistry lab. I wanted to be around people where I could impact someone’s life, but being impatient, I wanted to see the results of what I was doing immediately. I applied to different programs, and I was lucky that I got accepted to law school in New York and dental school in Boston. During the same time, my mom had a health issue and I knew I wanted to be close to home. I chose SCCO because it was the closest school to Utah that allowed me to spread my wings. I said no to law school—it was at the University of Utah and I had already gone to school there for four years, I wanted to do something different. Optometry school seemed like the closest place geographically to my home. That’s how I fell into optometry.

    What was it like to work with your spouse?

    He had multiple leases with LensCrafters, I was working as an optician while I was waiting for my Utah state license, and he had a doctor who was leaving. The retail setting taught me a lot about speed, dealing with different types of people, and different interactions. It was a good opportunity for me to learn at someone’s else’s expense. [Laughs] It was good for him because as our relationship developed (we started dating several years later), I was more vested in the business than just a regular doctor he was employing. We were never in the same office simultaneously. He let me run the one office, which was the busiest one, pretty much however I wanted to. I had a sense of autonomy, this was like my mini-practice. I left the practice after 10 or 11 years. The practice had grown so much, there was a lot of patient loyalty, and I didn’t think it was a good fit for me anymore.

    Related: Q&A: Justin Kwan, OD, FAAO Assistant professor and chief of cornea and contact lens services, Marshall B. Ketchum University

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