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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Nicholas N. Volpe, MD (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)
Description: This is the sixth edition (last published 4 years ago) of Kanski's classic book and a most worthwhile contribution. A perfect blend of beautiful illustrations and comprehensive coverage of all ophthalmic disorders, this edition includes new chapters on examination and imaging techniques and drug toxicities. The book nicely blends bulleted lists with prose.
Purpose: The author's stated purpose was to continue with a comprehensive book which is almost a blend between text and atlas. It is designed as a concisely written stepping stone from which the reader can go to more extensive reference textbooks. As an ophthalmology program director, I have uniformly recommended this book for that reason to my residents as they begin training.
Audience: Written for all ophthalmologists, the book functions well at many levels. For beginners, it provides a comprehensive source for disease identification, efficient knowledge acquisition, and differential diagnosis. A student of ophthalmology could pick any chapter, read it and have a firm (well illustrated) foundation in the area. In addition, experienced practitioners will find up-to-date information, incredible illustrations and figures to refresh their memory, and enough information to quickly have a differential diagnosis to consider and explore.
Features: Virtually all ophthalmology topics are covered to some extent. The introductory section on the eye examination, along with the sections on glaucoma, strabismus, cataract surgery and neuro-ophthalmology, are particularly well written and illustrated. As a rule, nearly every entity discussed is shown in a figure, making the book as well illustrated as an atlas. Because it is so comprehensive, there are only a few areas that are covered in great depth and there are no references.
Assessment: This is a unique book that really has no competition. It is much more than an introductory book for students and works well as the first book to go to when encountering a new or unfamiliar topic or wishing to see a picture of an entity being considered. On the other hand, it is not an authoritative text, since it has no references. Readers then must use this as a springboard for further literature review. It would seem to surpass a simple atlas because there is significant discussion of all entities. The book is up to date and current for rapidly changing topics such as macular degeneration and imaging techniques, and this alone justifies replacing older editions. In this day and age of ready access to the primary literature, this serves well as a handy book to use before literature review and it is more manageable and more evenly written than the comprehensive, multivolume, multiauthored texts in ophthalmology.