OK, undoubtedly the writing I have been paid the most for over the years – the writing that has been the closest I have been to earning some kind of living via the pen – were the book reviews I wrote for Eurotimes, the publication of the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons, from 2004 until 2010. With a payment by the word, and a brief essentially to write a piece about a book that would include a physical description of the size, cover design and proportions of the book, this was an assignment that ultimately became too much “for the money” rather than any great emotional investment on my part. Perhaps that was all to the good. Generally I would hold forth for some paragraphs about some wider issue inspired by the book, and this is fairly typical of my efforts.
I was upfront with the magazine about my lack of specialist knowledge of ophthalmology (although it has always been an interest and even quite far into psychiatric training I thought of changing specialties…. occasionally I think of it still) but that didn’t matter – the ability to write serviceable prose on a reliable schedule was the important thing. I tried to make these pieces interesting. I am not sure I always succeeded. Payment by the word may have engendered a certain long windedness.
Mastering the Techniques of Glaucoma Diagnosis and Management. Editors: Ashok
Garg et al. Jaypee Brothers, New Delhi, 2006. richly illustrated with colour
photographs, diagrams and tables. 556 pp.
Over the last number of months, this column has increasingly been dominated by the
publications of Jaypee Brothers of New Delhi. This production, from the cover in, is
their most lavish production yet. “Mastering the Techniques of Glaucoma Diagnosis
& Management” – which boasts a tiny picture of an eye in the “o” of “Glaucoma” on
the cover – is a production resulting from the efforts of 97 international contributors
from 15 countries. It required ten editors, with as nearly a spread of nationalities
involved. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the text on the back cover about this platoon of
editors requires quite a small typeface cover to accommodate all their life stories and
India is often used a case study in the effects of globalisation, and while from a
European point of view stories about outsourcing are often used as a stick to beat
globalisation, this books global range and scope illustrate the positive side of the
process. The internet has made the idea of a book published in India with contributors
from 15 different countries and editors from 7 countries all collaborating not merely
feasible, but a commonplace, and the globalisation of computer technology has made
the technical quality of the book achievable in a wide range of settings.
As glaucoma is now catching up with cataract as a worldwide cause of blindness, this
book is timely. Our awareness of the pathophysiology and natural history of glaucoma
has greatly increased. With an ageing population worldwide, chronic progressive
conditions like glaucoma will affect both patients themselves and practitioners more
and more as time goes by. New therapies offer the promise of a more efficient, more
cost-effective and therefore more available approach to glaucoma therapy.
The book is divided into four sections. First one on preliminary considerations and
diagnostic procedures in glaucoma. Secondly the management of glaucoma itself –
medical, surgical and laser – is discussed. This section, unsurprisingly, takes up the
largest section of the book, at over three hundred pages. There follows a short section
on complications of therapy, and finally a section on minimally invasive glaucoma
surgery, which focuses on recent technological and technical advances and possible
The book is extremely practical. The final section in particular on innovative
techniques is, by its very nature perhaps, quite didactic and instructive. Experienced
surgeons will find this section of particular interest and will be able to compare their
technique with that of the authors due to the high quality of the instructions given.
In the early section on diagnostic and pre-operative assessment too, we see this
eminently practical approach. Checklists and instructions for very practical tasks are
given, while the more discursive text describes the evidence base and technical and
theoretical reasons for the actions recommended. We find the same approach
throughout the longest section on the technical issues around management of
I have commented before on the high quality of books coming out of India in general,
and in particular on the high quality of books being published by Jaypee Brothers.
This book is not only of as high quality, it is aesthetically more pleasing. The typeface
and general design seem cleaner and more pleasing to the eye – and the various
sections are colour-coded for ease of access. The book is pleasant to handle. It is a
large, reference book, rather than one one could easily carry around the wards or into
theatre. It has a very attractive, soothing even, blue colour scheme on the cover.
The quality of the illustrations – and in particular the reproductions of colour
photographs – is also much to be commended. It is pleasant to come across a book
about ophthalmology so, in its way, attractive to look at. And again, this enhances the
practicality of the book.
As is the fashion nowadays, and as is the tradition with these large Jaypee Brothers
books, there is a DVD provided with the book. It is important to actually see
procedures being performed rather than just written about, and the selection of video
clips from the practices of some of the contributors is a valuable addition to the book.
Sometimes DVDs and CD-ROMs that come packaged with textbooks have a rather
gimmicky feel to them, replicating elements of the book rather than being used for
their own unique qualities, but this DVD is focused on providing visual backup for
the text rather than this pointless duplication.
This book is boggingly comprehensive and will satisfy both the trainee and the
specialist. There is perhaps overmuch detail for all but the most enthusiastic medical
student or non ophthalmologic doctor. With the rise of glaucoma noted above, it is
important that books for these groups are also produced, to raise awareness of the
condition and to give a simpler overview of treatment modalities. However, this
certainly is a useful overview of the state of the art with glaucoma management, with
a strong practical bent.