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Differential Diagnosis in Ophthalmology.

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    Differential Diagnosis in Ophthalmology. By Stephen A Vernon. Pp 192; £19.95. London: Manson Publishing, 1999. ISBN 1-874545-90-1.

    This small handbook was meant to provide “a differential diagnosis for those who provide eye care”. The book is divided into 10 chapters: Essentials of anatomy and physiology, Examinations of the visual system, The child with suspected eye disease, Chronic loss of vision, Acute painless visual disturbance, The acute red eye, Abnormal looking “eyes”, Chronic ocular unease and associated headaches, Ocular trauma, and Ophthalmology throughout the world. All of the chapters are relatively short. They are well illustrated with multiple colour photographs, which are of high quality and highlight the text appropriately. The retinal photographs are of particularly good quality.

    Because of the brevity of the book, few details are given and much of the information is provided in highlighted boxes where graphs, flow charts, and other quick visual means of presenting differential diagnoses are available. All of these chapters are effective with perhaps the exception of ophthalmology throughout the world. The author obviously has an interest in providing ophthalmic care in less well developed nations. His commitment to this is apparent in this particular chapter; however, the chapter is too short to be of any use to those ophthalmologists who do provide care in the developing world, and for those who do not it adds little to the rest of the textbook.

    The question of course is who is the target audience for this book. While it's nicely put together and well illustrated, one would think that the average registrar (or resident) after a year or so of training will have already accumulated most of the information provided in this book. Is the book therefore really meant to be used by students rather than ophthalmologists in training? If so, more introductory information at the beginning of each chapter would certainly be helpful. Finally, while it's clear that this is meant to be a short approach to the differential diagnosis of ophthalmic disorders a few references at the end of each chapter would be useful, particularly for students who might use this book. Nevertheless, this is a relatively inexpensive, well illustrated presentation of the differential diagnosis of common ophthalmic disorders.