Small Animal Ophthalmology: What's Your Diagnosis?


  • Rose Pearl

Heidi Featherstone and Elaine Holt, Published by Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, paperback, 272 pages, Price £34.99, ISBN-13: 978–1405151610

This small, fresh ophthalmology handbook is a new addition to the What's your Diagnosis? book series, published by Wiley-Blackwell. Prominent UK based ophthalmologists Heidi Featherstone and Elaine Holt have set out to provide a practical guide to clinical ophthalmology which is based around a case series approach. The format is separated according to common clinical scenarios, such as: Abnormalities of Globe Size and Position, The Red Eye, The Painful eye or Ocular Trauma. Each chapter is then subdivided in to a number of well-illustrated and comprehensive cases, inviting the reader to analyse the photographs initially. Differentials to be considered are presented thoroughly before the appropriate diagnostic test results, establishing a diagnosis and treatment options. This format lends itself readily to ophthalmology, since much of diagnosis rests on developing and interpreting using observational skills, with and without diagnostic equipment, during the ophthalmic exam. As the authors comment in the preface, this is what makes ophthalmology a uniquely visual discipline; utilising a visual format for the book not only gives a practical focus to ophthalmic clinical practice but provides for an engaging read.

Small Animal Ophthalmology- What's your Diagnosis? makes no attempt to be either a surgery manual nor an exhaustive reference for all ophthalmic conditions and is therefore best suited as a companion to the heavier ophthalmology reference books on the shelf. It does however cover very comprehensively each of the common clinical presentations that may be expected in small animal practice and rigorously investigates each of these thoroughly. For instance, in the case of a cat with systemic hypertension, hyphaema and hypertensive retinopathy is noted in one eye and intra-ocular haemorrhage leading to secondary glaucoma in the other. The work-up includes ocular ultrasound to investigate the buphthalmic eye with an opaque, extensively vascularised cornea prior to enucleation. The case is completed by illustrating with histopathology slides the pathophysiology of hyalinisation of retinal arterioles, perivascular haemorrhage and ischaemic injury. Clinically complex scenarios are successfully simplified and illuminate the importance of a thorough clinical approach.

The potential audience of this book should include anyone with an ophthalmology interest, from the final year vet student to general practitioner and beyond. The easily digested yet informative approach of the authors make it pertinent whatever your experience level. It is also essential reading for anyone preparing for the Ophthalmology Cert and is perhaps only a shame that it wasn't available earlier, considering that era is coming to an end.

Figure 1.

The only criticism that I had was I missed having references incorporated in to the body of the text. This potentially would have made it a much more weighty book and instead the authors opt for a small selection of references at the end of cases and as an appendix. That aside, this relatively inexpensive manual should be an essential component of the ophthalmologists’ and small animal practitioners’ library. The generous photographs are always of high quality and include a great range, from gross pathology specimen photos to MRI-images. It is altogether thoughtfully done and wholly relevant to all those practicing in the UK and further afield.

Rose graduated from Liverpool University in 2005, after an ophthalmology externship at the Animal Medical Centre, New York in her final year. Subsequent years allowed Rose to focus primarily on ophthalmology, within a busy, small animal first opinion practice in East London. She is now ophthalmology resident at Davies Veterinary Specialists.