Ophthalmology Review Manual, 2nd edition

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Ophthalmology Review Manual, 2nd edition , Kenneth C Chern and Michael A Saidel , Philadelphia : Wolters Kluwer Lippincott Williams & Wilkins , 2011 , 568 pages , RRP $171.60 , Reviewed by : DAVID M COCKBURN , Australian College of Optometry, VIC, Australia

This is a textbook with a difference. Inclusion of the word ‘Manual’ in the title gives a hint to its format. Its style of presentation will seem familiar to anyone who uses a good motorcar workshop manual: succinct, didactic and an invaluable guide to practical action. With the explosion of our understanding of eye disease since Duke-Elder wrote his magnificent classic 50 years ago, Duke-Elder's almost poetic style is no longer suitable to the task of assembling and conveying this expanded trove of knowledge. This book is simply a practical ‘what is wrong and how should we fix it’ guide in a simple, standardised format.

The book has only eight chapters covering topics of the cornea, lens, retina and vitreous, uveitis, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, orbital disease and paediatric ophthalmology. Within each chapter, the diseases affecting that anatomical area are presented in a tight and consistent manner beginning with a summary and proceeding through aetiology, signs and symptoms, the necessary examination techniques, treatment and the course of the disease process. There are occasional diversions from this basic format in larger disease topics, such as diabetes and glaucoma, where more detail is provided but there is always an economy in writing.

It is inevitable that in providing maximum information using the fewest number of words that some opportunity for misunderstanding will arise. For example, in Table 3.3 in Chapter 3, the caption reads ‘Incidence of diabetic retinopathy’: the first column heading reads ‘Duration of insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (years)’. The table shows that the five to seven year incidence is 50 per cent and the 17 to 25 year incidence is 90 per cent: figures that appear to be rounded off and do not apply to type 2 diabetes. A cursory glance at the table could lead to wrong interpretation. The source is not referenced, of which more anon.

The illustrations in Ophthalmology Review Manual are of excellent quality, although the reproductions are sometimes too small to readily enable detection of the clinical signs depicted. As in almost all texts, the authors (or publishers) seem to forget that students might have no idea of the appearance of the features that are depicted and have difficulty identifying them within the clutter of other normal or abnormal signs in the photograph. Arrows pointing to key features would be very helpful.

There are two valuable appendices: Appendix A is a table of ophthalmic drugs that identifies the route of administration, the mechanism of action and possible side effects. Appendix B lists the microorganisms affecting the eye, with the likely site of infection and the diseases produced. There is a very comprehensive index.

A feature of the ‘Manual’ is the lack of references supporting statements within the text. Occasionally, there are three or four references listed at the end of a section but there are no annotations to them in the text. This is not unreasonable for a text designed to make a lot of information easily available but with the contemporary emphasis on evidence-based medicine the lack of references diminishes the credibility of the book for the critical reader.

Purchase of the text includes free access to an online version; however, this feature was not yet online when writing this review.

Ophthalmology Review Manual is a valuable source of information that can be accessed quickly and conveniently. It is also reasonably priced for a book of this size. I strongly recommend it for both students and practitioners.