Review submitted in Feb 2007 of “Mastering the Techniques of Glaucoma Diagnosis and Management.” for Eurotimes

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

future developments.

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

glaucoma itself.

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.