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It would be churlish to be critical of this book. To have reached its fourth edition in 11 years, and have the previous edition reprinted three times suggests that it is doing something right. It is indeed a very useful reference book for optometrists and others with an involvement in optical science. The appeal to the student is its comprehensive nature: to have geometrical optics formulas alongside ocular anatomy makes it a daily companion. For the experienced practitioner too, it provides a concise reminder of dimly remembered definitions, and proof that there is always something new to learn. When I looked up the description given by colleagues of their method of measuring pupil size, I found that this was in fact “Broca’s pupillometer”—although my recollections of using an instrument called a Wesley keratometer for this purpose were not featured!
Space is obviously at a premium in the book with over 3800 terms included, and the fourth edition has been expanded to reflect the addition to the title of “Visual Science”. Terms such as magnocellular which did not appear in the previous edition are now amply covered, with copious cross referencing to lateral geniculate bodies, Y cells, parvocellular visual system, and dyslexia! This cross referencing is used very effectively to avoid repetition. To take an example, a Maddox cross is described as a “scale for measuring the angle of heterophoria and heterotropia” but it is only by following the cross reference to Maddox rod that you find out how this is done. Reading further you find that the Maddox rod can be used to measure cyclophoria, you again look elsewhere to find out what that is, and then the cross references to “test, double prism” and “test, Maddox rod” provide you with two methods of detection, one of which can also quantify the deviation. The author describes this as an effective method of self teaching—its only danger is that you become sidetracked by intriguing entries such as “test, Raubitschek” along the way. (In case you have never heard of it either, it is actually a test chart to measure astigmatism.) There is plentiful use of alternate listings to be sure you find what you are looking for, even if you don’t go to it immediately: ARM, AMD, and senile macular degeneration all lead to “maculopathy, age-related”. It is a little frustrating at first, but the reader soon realises that “cover test” is under “test, cover”, and ciliary muscle is “muscle, ciliary”, although “frequency, spatial” is much less intuitive. A new feature in this edition is the truly excellent use of tables. As well as more conventional data such as optical constants of the eye, average size of the normal visual field, and common photometric units, there are also helpful lists of all the terms the book contains within a particular subject area—for example, ophthalmic drugs, optical dispensing, and contact lenses. Some figures and photographs have also been added, but their usefulness is more mixed. To illustrate the “target of the direct comparison eikonometer” is of enormous help in understanding the description, but “occluder in front of the left eye” is less illuminating, and the photograph of the “typoscope” is even slightly misleading.
In summary, any reader with a few minutes to browse cannot fail to find an intriguing trail of cross references to follow. For those with more definite purpose who seek enlightenment, they will surely find it in this comprehensive volume which looks set to go from strength to strength.