J Lawton Smith Award Recipient

J Lawton Smith was one of the original founders of the COS.  He was globally well known as a neuroophthalmologist who was charismatic in practice and his faith!

The J Lawton Smith Award is given out each year at the COS Annual Meeting to an ophthalmologist who has shown a lifetime commmitment to serving the Lord through their personal practice of excellence in medicine, academic influence, and/or missionary dedication.

A mentor in excellence in the spirit of Christ’s love




Award Year:

That selfless love displayed itself as Kyle frequently modeled Christ-like love by spending as much time with patients and families as they needed and frequently prayed with them.

written by Jamie Pauuw

Dr. Kyle Smith shares much more than just a last name for who this award is named.  The award goes to someone who embodies excellence in medicine in a spirit of Christ’s love and Kyle’s career perfectly fits that description.  Excellence in medicine, teaching, entrepreneurship, and mission define Dr. Smith’s career.

Kyle graduated residency in 1990 and returned on faculty at Scott and White after a neuro-ophthalmology fellowship at Johns Hopkins.  In 2002 Kyle became the residency program director and served in that capacity for 12 years.  In a position where the average tenure is about three years, Kyle excelled and remained because of his passion for teaching the next generation of ophthalmologists.    Dozens of residents were blessed to learn first class neuro-ophthalmology and cataract surgery from someone who made coming up with differential diagnoses methodic and intuitive.  Ask any of his former residents the differential for optic neuropathy and they will all rattle off the OPTIC HURTING pneumonic even years later. 

In addition to humbly always being the smartest clinician in any room, Kyle demonstrated his passion for spreading Christ’s love.  After my wife and I matched at Scott and White we set up a time to look at houses for a weekend.  None of the residents were available to host us for the weekend.  We could have stayed in a hotel, but the Smith’s graciously opened their home to us.  Dr. Smith barely knew us apart from the interview weekend but welcomed us into his home.  I suspect few attending physicians would not only volunteer to host a medical student but spend the weekend with him and his wife. 

That selfless love displayed itself as Kyle frequently modeled Christ-like love by spending as much time with patients and families as they needed and frequently praying with them.  Three adventures to Mexico Dr. Smith and my fellow residents highlighted the training.  I think back on the multiplied impact of that investment as it taught me the value of foreign missions in ophthalmology.  Besides frequently going to Haiti myself as a result of catching the mission’s bug, I think about people like Nathan Henson, and Tim Fincher who are full time missionaries in part because of the role model they had in Kyle.

Although retired from practicing clinical ophthalmology, Kyle still pursues excellence in patient care.  Dr. Smith invented an electronic medical record from scratch and subsequently a surgical planning tool to fill a massive need in our field to harness the power of big data.  He devotes much of his time to improving that system, but he still makes a trip to Haiti frequently to do cataract surgery and help bring physical sight to teach Spiritual sight. I still talk to Dr. Smith regularly and appreciate that I know he prays for my family.  He is truly a mentor in excellence in medicine in a spirit of Christ’s love.

JLS Award Recipients

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