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He was given an ‘optometric opportunity’

Just call it an optometric opportunity too good to pass up, which was just what Dr. James Barton thought when he was first approached about taking over the late Dr. William Davidson’s Andalusia practice.

Barton, 26, is a 2002 Straughn High School graduate, Troy University graduate and later the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry. He is currently in the process of finishing his licensing procedure and plans to open his practice by the end of August.

“I was actually doing my internship at the Veterans Hospital in Birmingham when Evelyn King (Dr. Davidson’s nurse) called me,” Barton said. “It’s a little scary to go straight from clinicals to being a business owner. I haven’t gotten used to people calling me doctor yet, let alone boss.

“But I am very excited to be able to come back home to Andalusia,” he said. “It was always my goal, but I never anticipated things would work out as they have. It was truly too good of an opportunity to pass up.”

Barton said he always knew he wanted to be a doctor, but the question was, “What kind?”

“The eye has always fascinated me,” he said. “I’ve worn glasses since I was 7. To me, the process is amazing to go from walking into a wall to helping someone see, and I guess that it is the easiest way to explain why I chose to be an eye doctor.”

Barton said he knows he is following in some pretty big footsteps following the passing of Dr. Davidson, who provided eye care to residents for 35 years. Davidson passed away in May from cancer.

“Dr. Davidson’s patient list numbers in the thousands,” Barton said. “He was a great man and a wonderful doctor.

“The whole process is kind of daunting, but I know I’m up to the challenge,” he said. “This is my home. I had opportunities to go elsewhere, but this is where I know I need to be.

“Everyone in my family has messed up eyes, so I at least have a guaranteed patient base there,” he said with a laugh.

Barton is the son of David and Karen Barton of Andalusia.

Dr. James Barton takes a look at Sandy Henley’s broken glasses. Barton will officially open his practice by the end of August. | Stephanie Nelson/Star-News