Obituary: Professor Michel Millodot

The academic has been remembered as “one of the giants of 20th century optometry” following his death on 28 October


A Cardiff University honorary professor and author of Dictionary of Optometry and Vision Sciences has been remembered as a “quietly spoken, powerful intellect in optometry.”

Professor Michel Millodot was born Michel Miodovski in France in 1938. He died on 28 October surrounded by close family.

The son of Jewish emigres from Lithuania and Poland, Millodot’s family was forced into hiding when Germany invaded France in 1940.

His family was captured during the German occupation while trying to reach unoccupied France.

Millodot’s aunt was able to secure the release of Millodot and his sister but his parents were sent to Auschwitz where they died.

Millodot was raised in Paris by his aunt where he trained as an optician, gaining his state diploma in 1960. Continuing anti-Semitism in the post-war period saw the family change their name from Miodovski to Millodot.

Following a move to Toronto, Canada, Millodot studied at the College of Optometry (now the University of Waterloo), where he gained his doctorate.

Millodot met his wife Susan, also an optometrist, while studying at Northampton Polytechnic (now City, University of London).

He became a fellow of the British Optical Association before travelling to the US to undertake research at Indiana University.

Millodot completed a PhD at Brown University before becoming chair of the University of Wales’ department of optometry. His was the first department to use the term optometry, which was controversial at the time.

He established a four-year bachelor degree in optometry at Hong Kong Polytechnic University with colleague George Woo and taught at Hadassah Academic College in Jerusalem.

Following his return to the UK in 2004, he was made an honorary professor of optometry at the University of Cardiff and was awarded a Life Fellowship of the College of Optometrists in 2008.

In a tribute to Millodot, optometrist and honorary professor of clinical optometry at the University of Manchester, Nicholas Rumney, shared that Millodot “left footprints all over the world.”

“He was an inspiration, a mentor, a guide, but above all a friend, someone I think of often when I try to persuade of the value of research or think of the bigger picture. He was one of the giants of 20th century optometry,” he said.

Rumney studied under the guidance of Millodot while a student at University of Wales in 1980. He credits the academic as his inspiration to study in Melbourne “and the start on my road as an internationalist optometrist.”

“He was a quietly spoken, powerful intellect in optometry with a true vision for the profession,” he shared.