IMI Announces New Chief Scientist

June 26, 2021

Thursday, 26 June 2021, Sydney, Australia – The International Myopia Institute (IMI) announced today that Professor James Wolffsohn has accepted the position of Chief Scientist of IMI, following the retirement of Professor Earl L. Smith from the role.

Professor Smith is renowned for his ground-breaking research in myopia, in particular emmetropization and refractive development in primate models of myopia. His work in understanding the role of relative peripheral hyperopia, myopic defocus, the role of light levels and spectral distribution has led to many of the clinical applications we see today in myopia management. Professor Smith recently retired from his faculty position in the College of Optometry at the University of Houston, Texas, USA, where he was on the faculty for over forty years, holding many distinguished positions at the University. Professor Smith has won some of the eye care profession’s highest accolades, and has continuously held grants from the National Eye Institute over thirty years. He is currently Professor Emeritus.

New IMI Chief Scientist Professor Wolffsohn has been a valued member of the IMI advisory board since 2016 and helped to chair the taskforces that developed the IMI whitepapers in 2019 and 2021. Professor Wolffsohn was previously the Head of Optometry at Aston University, Birmingham, UK before becoming the Deputy Executive Dean for Life and Health Sciences. He is currently the associate Pro-Vice Chancellor also at Aston University. His research focus is on ophthalmic technology, mainly related to contact lenses, the tear film and myopia.

“I am honoured to have been nominated as Chief Scientist of the IMI,” said Professor Wolffsohn. “After training as an optometrist, some of my earliest research was on accommodative microfluctuations in myopic (compared to other refractive errors) children in Hong Kong. I have observed this field translate from the ‘lab’ to transforming the healthy visual outlook of many children, whilst the increase in myopia and its associated visual risks has reached epidemic proportions in large parts of the world. However, as a relatively young area of clinical practice, there is still much to do to nurture and support high quality science and translate this into evidence-based best practice guidelines for clinicians, to enhance the long-term quality of life of future generations. The IMI has brought together the world’s best minds in the field to guide practitioners and influence governments/regulators, and I look forward to continue to work with them.”

“We look forward to working with Professor Wolffsohn to further the mission of the IMI in advancing research, education and awareness in myopia to reduce future vision impairment and blindness,” added IMI Executive Director, Dr. Monica Jong. “It is an honour to have worked with Professor Smith over the years, and we are thankful for his service, and continued service as an advisory board member.”


The International Myopia Institute was formed following the WHO-BHVI meeting on myopia and high myopia in 2015, due to the need to address the increasing levels of myopia and high myopia worldwide that can lead to potentially sight threatening complications for an individual, and the massive global burden associated with lost productivity.

The IMI are a global group of experts who have come together to discuss, debate and make available the latest evidence-based recommendations in classifications, patient management, and research, in the form of the IMI white papers. The IMI white papers and clinical summaries are made freely available in many world languages so that the evidence can be disseminated to all corners of the world and to those that would benefit the most – practitioners, governments, policy makers, educators and the general public.

Our mission is to advance research, patient management and education in myopia to prevent future vision impairment and blindness associated with increasing myopia.  We aim to do this by bringing together, but not limited to scientists, clinicians, policy makers, government and educators into the field of myopia to stimulate collaboration and sharing of knowledge.

Founded by Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI). Supported by Zeiss, Essilor, CooperVision, Alcon and OCULUS.

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