Dr. Velazquez: In the Beginning

Dr. V. at desk              

Dr. Andrew Velazquez, Corneal Specialist
In his inaugural blog, Dr. Andrew Velazquez, shares some background information about how he ended up where he is today.  Alabama Vision Center is the leader in the Birmingham community for cataract, cornea, and refractive procedures.  We invite your comments and look forward to interacting with you in this new blogging adventure!
I liked Birmingham the first time I saw it.  I was probably 10 years-old and living in Atlanta.  My mother thought it would be a nice family trip to take a train trip to Birmingham for the day with my brother and me.  So off we went for our first train ride to a city we knew very little about.  While I don’t remember many specifics from that trip (except for the Vulcan statue of course!), I remember a general sense that Birmingham had a laid back and casual vibe to it.  It seemed to be a city with a lot to offer young families and without the traffic problems that anyone who’s been to Atlanta can relate to.  I filed away these memories for future reference.
After graduating from high school in Atlanta, I attended Auburn University.  This allowed for additional trips to Birmingham for the occasional weekend with friends where I came to enjoy everything Birmingham had to offer and liked the city the more I came to know it.  I went to the University of South Alabama for medical school and moved to Birmingham for my intern year.  After that one short year, I move to the University of Florida for my ophthalmology residency and followed this with a cornea and refractive surgery fellowship at Duke University.  Finally being done with my training and ready for a real job as my wife put it, we moved to Birmingham permanently where I joined the Department of Ophthalmology at UAB.  After four years of academic medicine I made the decision to join Price Kloess at Alabama Vision Center where I’ve been since 2007.
So why did I become a physician?  To be honest, the decision to pursue medicine was made a little later in life; in college to be specific.  There are no physicians in my family and no close family friends were in the medical field to influence my decision.  In fact my dad was an airline pilot, (now retired) and I’m sure it won’t surprise anyone to learn that I thought that would be the way to go when I was growing up (I briefly wanted to be an astronaut, but there seemed to be a lot of competition for that).  So off I went to Auburn on a NROTC scholarship to become an aviator.   However, something happened during my freshman year.  I gravitated to the natural science courses and found a renewed interest in them that I didn’t have in the pre-business courses I was taking.  During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years, I made a leap of faith and changed my major to one that was far more interesting to me:  pre-medicine.  I decided I wanted to become a physician and make a difference in lives of people who needed help.  
So how did I choose ophthalmology?  Unlike the decision to pursue medicine, I knew pretty early on that I was interested in ophthalmology.  There is something about the eye that still intrigues me.  I find the help that I can give to patients rewarding, whether it’s as simple as a pair of glasses, LASIK surgery, cataract surgery, or a corneal transplant.  I kept an open mind during my first three years of medical school and when it came time to choose our specialty, I was still determined to become an ophthalmologist.
We moved to Birmingham in 2003 and currently live in Liberty Park.  My wife, Romney, works for a local photographer and our daughters, Sydney and Lauren, attend the local elementary school.  I split my time among our offices in Mountain Brook and Greystone as well as our satellite office in Jasper.  We also have an office in Alabaster as well as satellite offices in Gardendale and Clanton.  To cover these offices we have three ophthalmologists, two optometrists, and 35 wonderful additional employees.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for topics to discuss.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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