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Edited by K C Chern. (Pp 297; £44.00). McGraw Hill, New York, 2002. ISBN 0-07-137325-X
Pardon the pun, but ophthalmology is a very visual topic, so any book that aims to help the reader identify and treat eye emergencies relies on liberal use of colour photographs to permit rapid correlation between the patient in front of you and the relevant chapter. In this respect, Emergency ophthalmology does not disappoint. Furthermore, the editor, himself an assistant professor in the specialty in Boston, has drawn on a wide and expert body of authors to add authoritative guides to the immediate management of many common and not so common eye emergencies. A cynic might observe that none of the authors is himself an emergency physician, but in reality this is of little consequence—can you honestly say you aren’t relieved to refer horrendous eye problems to someone who knows more about it than you?
The structure of the book is logical. A detailed summary of the anatomy of the eye and orbit, together with a reminder of how to examine the visual system properly, leads into a series of well illustrated chapters that take each component of the eye and orbit in turn and give clear details regarding the management of a wide range of pathology. Like any decent picture book, it is a pleasure just to flick through the colour photographs even without a patient to treat.
Some sections of this book are obviously more relevant to emergency medicine than others. In particular, the (brief) sections dealing with squints and some of the more esoteric visual tests available struggle to hold the reader’s interest. There is also the issue of this being an American text, with the usual differences in drug nomenclature and certain aspects of ongoing care, but it is quite clear where these occur and there is no great problem in translating the information to UK practice.
There is always a sting in the tail with books that rely heavily on colour illustrations to make them worthwhile—the cost. I couldn’t find any web site that sells this volume for less than £44, which makes it a departmental investment, and to be fair, there would be little point in buying this book for individual use. Having said that, this compact and very readable book contains a wealth of helpful information and would be a useful addition to any library.
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