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Seven Must-Have Books for the Beginning Ophthalmologist

June into July is a daunting time for many interns-turned-ophthalmology-residents. This transition period is often just as exciting as it is overwhelming. In this phase, we tend to thoroughly investigate big-ticket items, like which ophthalmoscope will fit our needs and where to find reasonable living quarters, but we often ignore smaller undertakings due to time constraints. As ophthalmology residents, we have surprisingly found that one of the frequently glazed-over topics is what books to purchase. This article details our picks for seven must-have books before starting ophthalmology residency. Each book discussed exemplifies a particular niche of the educational spectrum. We hope this is a useful guide!

1. Basic and Clinical Science Course

The Basic and Clinical Science Course, or BCSC, is a 13-book set published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Each book covers a particular topic in detail. The BCSC is a mainstay resource for ophthalmology residents throughout all 3 years of training. Most residents try to read the complete set every year of residency, although the information can be dense at times. Some residents feel this series is a necessity, as questions on the Ophthalmic Knowledge Assessment Program (OKAP) exam are typically derived from material found within these books.

2. Operative Dictations in Ophthalmology

Newly published in 2017, Operative Dictations in Ophthalmology serves as both a preparation and debriefing for each surgeon, or surgeon in training, by improving comprehension time and cultivating surgical forethought. It includes dictation samples, detailed steps, abstract reviews, complications, and preoperative indications for nearly every surgical procedure a resident will encounter. More precisely, the book is 694 pages and reviews 160 procedures. Chapters are authored by leading experts within all ophthalmic subspecialties.

  • Take-home message: Never be unprepared to operate; otherwise, you won’t!
  • Fast facts! Print: $199; eBook: $149; Amazon review: 5 stars
  • http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319454948; or, come to ME Live Nashville for a chance to win a free copy

3. Review of Ophthalmology

Review of Ophthalmology is a very popular book, and for good reason. William Trattler, MD, et al provide us with an easy-to-read text with many useful charts, appropriate outlines, and fantastic diagrams. Much like First AID for the United States Medical Licensing Examination, many residents opt to supplement information from other texts/didactic sessions into Review of Ophthalmology.

4. Kanski’s Clinical Ophthalmology

Kanski’s Clinical Ophthalmology is a 928-page, all-in-one textbook that provides a comprehensive foundation for any ophthalmologist in training. Many residents find it easier to study from a single source, compared with the 13-volume BCSC series. Additionally, this text includes many well-chosen images that make integrating studying into clinical practice a seamless transition (a feature lost in many other sources).

5. The Wills Eye Manual

With updated editions released every year, The Wills Eye Manual is every resident’s best friend while on call. This guide contains nearly everything, including workups, exam findings, differentials, surgical techniques, and more. It is a surprisingly portable paperback book that fits perfectly into your call bag. The good news: Allergan will offer up a complimentary copy for all new residents!

6. OphthoBook

Walk before you run. Best read during your busy intern year, or as a medical student on away rotations, OphthoBook provides an easy-to-read and solid foundation of information for interns or medical students interested in ophthalmology. Not only does Timothy Root, MD, drive the important points home, but he also provides several fantastic supplementary YouTube videos reviewing ophthalmology exam techniques. Generations of young ophthalmologists owe a large gratitude to Dr. Root’s resources. A formal hard copy can also be purchased on his website.

  • Take-home message: Cartoons + ophthalmology = instant winner
  • Fast facts! Print: $19.99; Online/PDF: free; Amazon review: 4.7 stars
  • https://timroot.com/ophthobook/

7. Last-Minute Optics

Optics is not everyone’s favorite topic, but it is covered heavily on the OKAPs. This book boils down the essentials into an easy-to-digest manual with clear ray diagrams.

Authors’ Note: We have not been paid by any of the authors to discuss their books; however, there may be some bias with regard to Operative Dictations in Ophthalmology.

Adam Jacobson, MD
  • Second-Year Ophthalmology Resident, New York Medical College
Eric Rosenberg, DO
  • Second-Year Ophthalmology Resident, New York Medical College
  • ericr29@gmail.com; Twitter @EyeDRosenberg
  • Financial interest: Editor (Operative Dictations in Ophthalmology)