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The Pocket Book of Ophthalmology is a textbook primarily aimed at undergraduates and general practitioners. It has been devised to fit easily into a pocket and to provide a brief overview of ophthalmology that might be encountered in an outpatient or primary care setting. Although there are many small books aimed at such an audience, few are so easily portable and none include that elusive pinhole occluder that is freely provided. Also, although not explicitly stated, the costs of this book appear to have been subsidised by the pharmaceutical industry who are perhaps trying to indoctrinate future members of the medical profession at an earlier stage than might be thought decent. Morals aside, does this book meet its objectives?
The core of the book is divided into three sections of brief notes—applied “anatomy and physiology”, “conditions”, and “topics”. The section on applied anatomy and physiology is clear and to the point providing adequate explanation for the novice. In the section on conditions diseases are arranged alphabetically and succinctly which is good for easy reference but might encourage didactic learning without thought to disease processes or systemic involvement. The section on topics gives a brief overview of ophthalmic assessment, optics, and therapy. This section is varied and interesting, including topics on such wide ranging subjects as aging, the problems of visual acuity testing in children, and the use of lasers in ophthalmic practice. Finally there is a short appendix of well chosen diagrams.
This book does not aim to be a comprehensive textbook but sees itself as a guide to ophthalmology and as a stimulus to wider reading. Its physical size is one of its main attributes but its contents are perhaps not sufficient for the entire needs of most medical students or general practitioners. Its role is therefore as an adjunct for the interested student or practitioner and in that setting it more than adequately meets its objectives.