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Practical paediatric ophthalmology

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    Practical paediatric ophthalmology. By D Taylor, C Hoyt. Pp 248. £34.50. Oxford: Blackwell Science, 1997. ISBN 086542 7208.

    Practical Paediatric Ophthalmology is a beautifully illustrated volume from the same ‘stable’ asPaediatric Ophthalmology, which has become the classic text for this subspecialty. With 27 chapters it offers a comprehensive review of most aspects of children’s eye disorders. The exception is strabismus which is mentioned only briefly in the context of screening, refractive errors, and as part of the presentation of various other ophthalmic disorders.

    The illustrations are of exceptional quality, reproducing many of those available in the ‘big book’. These high quality illustrations and succinct summaries of the various disorders have already made it a firm favourite in our department, with both trainee ophthalmologists and paediatricians finding it a valuable reference guide.

    However, there are some reservations. Though readers are exhorted to use the sister text Practical Strabismus Management, the cost and size of the combined texts takes them beyond the ‘handy quick reference’ category. Also the devotion of 59 pages to aspects of neuro-ophthalmology very much reflects the authors’ interests and practice rather than the paediatric ophthalmology that most readers with a subspecialty interest will encounter. Fourteen pages on nystagmus but only one devoted to the difficult question of glaucoma management serves to emphasise this bias.

    Furthermore, the text while clearly written and informative is written in a discursive style and is meant to be read through, cover to cover, rather than dipped into for easy reference in a clinic setting. I therefore found myself wondering why a junior would not, instead, use the ‘big book’ to learn about the diagnosis and management of difficult problems.

    It is of course no criticism of a book that a reviewer cannot easily identify its intended audience, and I suspect that it will be enormously popular and thus answer those particular misgivings. The authors have produced a fine text and, only because the other large text with which they are involved is so exceptional, do I feel the need to offer any criticism.