J. Lawton Smith Soundboard — A Tribute

“Welcome, Doctor!” Dr. J. Lawton Smith (1929–2011) was one of the most famous neuro-ophthalmologists to ever live. He had a distinguished career at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, one of the most famous eye hospitals in the world (affiliated with University of Miami). In the 1970s, he recorded a series of lectures on neuro-ophthalmology on reel-to-reel tapes. The goal of these recordings was to help residents learn about neuro-ophthalmology while they were commuting or otherwise free to listen — the original podcast. These lectures in full can be listened to at the following link. While they are a little bit dated, a lot of the concepts are still valid, and they are highly educational and entertaining:


Dr. Tim Root, who runs the excellent https://timroot.com/ site and published the highly-recommended and very funny OphthoBook, was a big fan of Dr. Smith and has put many people onto his lectures.

Dr. Smith was a religious man who care deeply for his patients, which becomes clear from listening to his tapes. He was from a rural area of South Carolina, and he was famous for peppering his podcasts and teaching with lots of “down home” and entertaining expressions from his hometown, like “rare as hen’s teeth,” “enough [of some eye drop] to float the Queen Mary,” and “happier than a dead hog in the sun.” Many of these expressions are listed in the glossary section at the end of this tribute to the great man, which is well worth a read if you want to know what an “Acey case,” “Walletectomy,” “Subaquatic workup,” or “serum rhubarb” is all about:

Please find some of my favorite phrases from his lectures here as a soundboard, to help commemorate the great doctor.

Tell me when it hits the sweet spot
Rare as hen’s teeth
Big beef steak (crocodile tears)
Now don’t get too hungry!
More hypermetropia than you can shake a stick at
Mmm-mmm! Nom de plume, gimme that thing!
Gimme that thing!
Gimme dat cyl!