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S R Fraser, R Asaria, C Kon. (£17.95). BMJ Books, 2001. ISBN 0-7279-1413-8
Ophthalmology is a tricky area for many staff in accident and emergency (A&E). There are few true ophthalmic emergencies but many semi-urgent conditions that could benefit from early diagnosis and treatment. Unfortunately, ophthalmology is increasingly being squeezed from the undergraduate curriculum and many in A&E will be relatively unfamiliar with this important topic.
“Eye know how” is certainly a catchy title for a book aimed at the non-ophthalmologist dealing with ocular problems. It claims to concentrate on the common complaints seen in primary care and A&E. The structure of the book has something to commend it as the authors have adopted a presentation led approach to ocular problems with decision trees to aid diagnoses. Unfortunately, these, as with the rest of the books content, appear to be based on the authors current practice and opinions rather than any published evidence There are no references and I would argue that there is published evidence in direct contradiction to the authors opinions for common conditions such as corneal abrasions.
However, the greatest criticism of this book must be the lack of pictures and diagrams. Ophthalmology is, by any reckoning, a visual specialty and despite the authors premise that pictures are not required to learn the basics I cannot agree with this. The few black and white photographs in the book are generally of an extremely poor quality. While they point out that other texts with colour photos are more expensive, they are in my opinion worth it as so much of ophthalmological diagnosis is aided by pattern recognition.
Would I buy this book? Personally I would not. I would save up a little longer for a text with colour illustrations and slides.