Meet Our Doctors

Jeffrey Payne, MD
L. Jeffrey Payne, M.D.Cataract Surgeon, Ophthalmologist
Location: Gainesville

Dr. Jeffrey Payne is one of the most experienced ophthalmologists in North Georgia. Currently he is the Medical Director of North Georgia Eye and its’ affiliated businesses, North Georgia Optical, North Georgia Aesthetics, and North Georgia Eye Surgery Center. Dr. Payne graduated magna cum laude from North Georgia College in Dahlonega, with a B.S. in biology. Following completion of his undergraduate work he enrolled in the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. Dr. Payne was the Desiree Franklin Scholar, received the Shephard Award for Outstanding Research and a pathology research fellowship. After earning his Doctorate of Medicine (MD), he completed his internship at the Medical College of Georgia hospitals and clinics followed by a residency in ophthalmology, where he was named Chief Resident.

Dr. Payne is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ASCRS), and the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology (GSO). He serves as Chairman of Health Partners Board at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. Dr. Payne is a Diplomat of the American Board of Ophthalmology and a board member of the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology. Dr. Jeffrey Payne has privileges at Northeast Georgia Medical Center and North Georgia Eye Surgery Center. Jeff Payne and his family are members of Gainesville First United Methodist Church in Gainesville, Georgia.

Matthew B. Kaufman, M.D.Refractive Surgeon, Cataract Surgeon, Ophthalmologist
Locations: Cumming, and Hamilton Mill

Matthew B. Kaufman, M.D., a leading ophthalmologist in Northern Georgia, is the director of refractive surgery at North Georgia Eye Clinic. Fellowship trained to sub-specialize in LASIK and refractive surgery, corneal disorders and treatments, and cataract surgery, Dr. Kaufman received his education and training from some of the most advanced medical facilities in the nation. He graduated magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University; following the completion of his undergraduate degree, Dr. Kaufman enrolled in the Vanderbilt University Medical School and received his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree. Dr. Kaufman completed an internship in internal medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia and a residency in ophthalmology at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. During his residency, he was Baylor’s first resident physician ever to perform LASIK surgery. Dr. Kaufman elected to further his training by accepting a fellowship in cornea, anterior segment, and refractive surgery at the University of California. While in California, he had the privilege to train directly with Dr. Peter McDonnell, the current chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, widely regarded as the premier ophthalmology program in the world. Dr. Kaufman has served as a clinical instructor at the University of California and the Veterans Administration Hospital in Long Beach, California. He was also a faculty instructor for the University of California Residency Microsurgery Course.

Dr. Kaufman has published articles in several medical journals, with topics including LASIK and cataract surgery. He has been the recipient of many awards and honors throughout his professional and academic careers. These honors include a fellowship with Diabetes Research and Training Center at Vanderbilt University, the Phi Beta Kappa award, membership in the College Scholars Program, and membership in the Mortar Board Honor Society. Dr. Kaufman is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the International Society of Refractive Surgery, and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. He is board certified in ophthalmology, and has several hospital appointments including Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Lanier Park Regional Hospital, North Georgia Medical Center, Union General Medical Center, and the North Georgia Eye Surgery Center.

Brent Hayek, MD, FACSOculoplastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, Ophthalmologist
Locations: Gainesville and Braselton

Brent Hayek, MD, is an oculoplastic and reconstructive surgeon and delighted to join North Georgia Eye. Prior to joining, Dr. Hayek was Associate Professor in Oculoplastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Ophthalmology at the Emory University School of Medicine. He brings a decade of expertise in the care of adults and children including reconstructive and cosmetic procedures of the eyelids, face, orbit, and tear drainage system. He graduated summa cum laude from Oral Roberts University and worked for 5 years as an analytical chemist. He graduated the University of Iowa School of Medicine AOA and then completed his internship in General Surgery, followed by residency in Ophthalmology at Loyola School of Medicine in Chicago. He completed his Oculoplastic Surgery fellowship training at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Dr. Hayek’s research interests involve improvements and innovative drug therapy for thyroid eye disease, as well as more predictable facial fat transfer techniques for peri-orbital rejuvenation. These interests were highlighted by his work as Emory principal investigator for a novel drug treatment for severe thyroid eye disease. published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Hayek has served in clinical and research capacities to advance global eye health, including the Emory Global Ophthalmology Committee, Orbis International and Himalayan Cataract Project. As an integral member of the Emory Eye Center team deployed to West Africa to understand eye disease in Ebola survivors, Dr. Hayek has also provided eye care for patients in Sierra Leone and Liberia since 2015. He has been part of numerous medical teams helping diagnose and treat patients, and train healthcare workers in Madagascar, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Swaziland.

National Recognition

Dr. Hayek is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology. He is a member of the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery (ASOPRS), the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) honor society and Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). Dr. Hayek has published numerous peer-reviewed publications and abstracts, many of which have been presented at national and international meetings. He has served on local and national committees and been a manuscript reviewer for several peer reviewed journals.

Areas of Clinical Interest

Eyelid disorders
• Droopy/puffy lids
• Eyelids turning in or out (entropion/ectropion)
• Eyelid retraction (e.g. birth defects, thyroid eye disease or Graves eye disease)
• Trauma
• Eyelid cancer such as basal and squamous cell carcinoma, sebaceous carcinoma and melanoma
• Mohs reconstruction

Orbital disorders, tumors and trauma
Thyroid eye disease
Tear duct obstruction
Anophthalmic socket/artificial eyes
Facial and eyelid spasm disorders
Cosmetic services include both surgical and non-surgical approaches to help restore a more youthful appearance
• Forehead/brow lifts
• Blepharoplasty
• Cheek advancement
• Injectables and other neuromodulators
• Facial fillers, peels and resurfacing lasers
• Fat transfer for facial rejuvenation/reconstruction

Matthew W. Hollar, M.D.Cataract Surgeon, Ophthalmologist
Locations: Gainesville, Braselton, and Clayton

Dr. Matthew Hollar is the newest member to the team of comprehensive ophthalmologists at North Georgia Eye Clinic, specializing in medical and surgical care of the eye. A native of western North Carolina, he and his family have lived north of Atlanta since 1999. For his undergraduate studies, Dr. Hollar graduated summa cum laude from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN where he was awarded a full academic scholarship and was named the 2003 male United States Presidential Scholar for the state of Georgia. Afterwards, Dr. Hollar enrolled in the Duke University School of Medicine where he received his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree and was also awarded a full academic scholarship. During his time in medical school, Dr. Hollar devoted two full-time years to research at the Duke Eye Center studying age-related eye diseases. Following medical school, Dr. Hollar returned to Nashville where he completed an internship in Internal Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He then began residency training in Ophthalmology at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute and Veteran’s Administration Hospital. He has published multiple articles in medical journals with topics including healthcare disparities in ophthalmology, macular degeneration, ocular oncology, infections of the eye, and congenital ophthalmic disease.

Dr. Hollar holds a hospital appointment at North Georgia Medical Center and is a member of both the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Medical Association. His clinical interests include dry eye syndrome, medical management of glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology and cataract surgery. Outside of medicine, he enjoys hiking, running, and classical piano. He welcomes new patients to his clinic and looks forward to meeting you.

John W. Thomas, M.D.Ophthalmologist
Location: Gainesville

With nearly 20 years’ experience, Dr. Thomas is a leader in the field of vitreoretinal disease and surgery. Fellowship trained and sub-specializing in retinal surgery and disease, Dr. Thomas has extensive skill in managing severe diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and other retinal disorders. A native of Ohio, Dr. Thomas holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in chemistry from The College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. He received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and later completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Emory University Hospital, Grady Memorial Hospital, Veteran’s Administration Hospital, and Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. After residency, Dr. Thomas completed a fellowship in vitreoretinal disease and surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Dr. Thomas has been a clinical instructor in ophthalmology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He currently has hospital appointments at Saint Joseph Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, Decatur Hospital in Decatur, Georgia, Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton, Georgia, and Dekalb Medical Center in Decatur, Georgia.

Dr. Thomas is currently a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Thomas is board certified in ophthalmology and has served as president of the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology.

Sheetal M. Shah, M.D.Ophthalmologist
Location: Gainesville and Braselton

Dr. Sheetal M. Shah, a board certified Ophthalmologist, attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York graduating with honors in biological sciences and applied economics and management. She then received her medical degree from SUNY Downstate Medical College in Brooklyn, NY, where she was actively involved in the local community. Dr. Shah went on further to complete a Cornea, External Disease and Refractive Surgery Fellowship at New York Presbyterian Hospital – Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, NY. During this time, she conducted research on ocular surface disorders and dry eye syndrome.

Her clinical interests include advance dry eye disease, infectious and inflammatory disorders of the cornea, and ocular surface disease. She is currently evaluating patients for dry eye syndrome offering novel therapies including the FDA proved Lipiflow Thermal Pulsation Treatment. In addition, Dr. Shah holds a strong interest in international health, having spent time with Surgical Eye Expeditions in Rajasthan, India. In her free time, she loves to travel and read contemporary Asian literature. She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two children.

Bhairavi Dholakia, M.D.Cataract Surgeon, Refractive Surgeon, Ophthalmologist
Locations: Cumming and Hamilton Mill

Dr. Dholakia is a board certified ophthalmologist with extensive clinical and surgical experience in the field of corneal disorders, cataract surgery, and refractive surgery. Dr. Dholakia completed her undergraduate studies at Emory University. She completed her medical education at the Medical College of Georgia, followed by internship at Emory. She did her residency at the prestigious Wills Eye Hospital and completed a fellowship at Duke Eye Center in corneal disorders, cataract surgery, and refractive surgery. After completing her training, she served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and at Emory University. While at the University of Arkansas, she also served as the Director of Corneal and External Disease and Director of Refractive Surgery.

Dr. Dholakia has been the recipient of many Honors and Awards throughout her professional career. While in medical school, she was inducted in Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Society and was awarded the American Medical Women’s Association Janet Glasgow Memorial Award. She also received the Physician’s Physician award, an honor given to the individual that peers and faculty would choose as their physician. While at the University of Arkansas, Dr. Dholakia was honored for her excellence in teaching with the Teacher of the Year award. She received the Dean’s Outpatient All Stars Award on multiple occasions for her commitment to excellence in patient care. Dr. Dholakia has published articles in multiple medical journals and has contributed chapters to various textbooks.

Her clinical interests include cataract surgery, partial and full thickness corneal transplantation, clinical and surgical treatment of corneal disorders, management and treatment of ocular surface disorders such as dry eyes and blepharitis, and refractive surgery.

Christina L. Weeks, M.D.Ophthalmologist, Pediatric Ophthalmologist
Location: Cumming

Dr. Weeks specializes in pediatric ophthalmology and adult strabismus (improper ocular alignment) at the North Georgia Eye Clinic. Dr. Weeks has broad experience treating children and offers eye care and vision correction to our young patients. Dr. Weeks graduated as an Echols Scholar from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in chemistry, with a specialization in biological chemistry. Later, she graduated with her Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina. Dr. Weeks continued her training with an internship in Internal Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina and a residency in ophthalmology at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. She then completed a fellowship in pediatric ophthalmology at Children’s Health Care of Atlanta at Scottish Rite Hospital.

Dr. Weeks has been the recipient of many professional and academic awards including the Veterans Medical Center Award for Excellence in Patient Care, election into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, American Medical Women’s Association Glasgow Memorial Award, South Carolina Medical Association Auxiliary Scholarship, and the Southern Medical Association Scholarship. Dr. Weeks is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. She is board certified in ophthalmology.

Shundale Mixon, O.D.Optometrist, Pediatric Optometrist
Locations: Braselton and Gainesville

Dr. Shundale Mixon is a board-certified optometrist with a distinctive interest in strabismus, amblyopia therapy, and comprehensive pediatric and adult eye exams. Dr. Mixon has broad experience in the diagnosis and treatment of a vast array of ocular conditions. She has extensive knowledge and success with specialty contact lens fittings, including corneal and scleral gas permeable lenses, hybrids, and multiple soft contact lenses. Dr. Mixon also has a particular interest in myopia control with the use of soft contact lenses and orthokeratology. She has a zest for interacting with kids and a passion for pediatric care.

Dr. Mixon graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Respiratory Therapy with minors in Chemistry and Spanish. She later graduated from Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry in Davie, Florida, and completed her residency at Omni Eye Services in Atlanta. She is a proud member of the American Optometric Association, the Georgia Optometric Association, and the College of Optometrists in Vision Development. She also currently serves as the Chair of the GOA Young OD Committee and is a member of the GOA Leadership Academy. During her leisure time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two delightful children. She is excited about being apart of the North Georgia Eye team and looks forward to her continued effort in pediatric eye care.

Mark M. Novotny, O.D.Optometrist
Locations: Gainesville, Braselton, Ellijay & Clayton

Dr. Novotny has a wide range of experience in the field of optometry and specialized in contact lens fittings and general eye exams. Prior to his current position with North Georgia Eye Clinic, Dr. Novotny spent two years working for Envision Eyecare in Clearwater, Florida. Dr. Novotny holds degrees from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, and Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida. Dr. Novotny’s training has included a contact lens rotation under Dr. Chrycy at Miami Eye Care and an ocular pathology rotation at the Ft. Lauderdale Eye Institute.

Theresa PanterMS, FNP-C
With over 30 years in nursing, Mrs. Panter has experience in a variety of specialties to include critical care, cardiology, internal medicine and ophthalmology. She has specialized in the field of ophthalmology for the past 10 years. As an FNP, she is in charge of patient pre-operative history and physicals for the assessment of surgical risk factors and determination of clearance prior to surgery. Mrs. Panter provides comprehensive preoperative patient education and detailed post-operative care. She also works with her patients on the day of surgery at North Georgia Eye Surgery Center. She is involved in the teaching/screening role of disease prevention and health promotion for patients to achieve optimal eye health. Theresa is our cosmetic specialist. She has completed training and is certified by The Aesthetic Advancement Institute as a certified injector of Dermal Fillers. Theresa has attended numerous seminars involving skincare transformation and has extensive training with Allergan, Obagi, Revision Skincare, and others. She has been part of North Georgia Eye Clinic and Laser Center since 2005.

Theresa received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Clemson University in Clemson, SC. Mrs. Panter spent the majority of her time in critical care and became certified as a CCRN specialist. She later completed her Master’s of Science degree and was an Honor Graduate in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program at North Georgia College and State University Nursing in Dahlonega, GA.  She is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, United Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, Who’s Who for Professional Women and Sigma Theta Tau International. Mrs. Panter participated in extensive research and presentations in the field of diabetes, hypertension, cataracts and pediatric asthma. She is published in the American Journal of Pediatrics. Theresa was Nurse Manager of an intensive care unit for several years in Spartanburg, SC. She also worked in the Cardiovascular Recovery Unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, Ga. Theresa is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner.