Book Title: The Eye Book: A Complete Guide to Eye Disorders and Health
Author: Gary H. Cassel
Publication Information: Baltimore, MD, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021, 536 pp., $24.95, paperback
Most people have questions about how their eyes work, what they should be doing to protect their eyes, and what happens when their eyes age and change. In primary care, we may see patients with questions about why they need glasses as they enter middle age. Sometimes, patients may ask complicated questions about newly diagnosed eye disorders like glaucoma. In an effort to provide an easy-to-read owner’s manual to the eye, Gary H. Cassel, an ophthalmologist trained at the Wills Eye Institute and a practicing clinician with over 30 years of experience, wrote The Eye Book: A Complete Guide to Eye Disorders and Health. This is the second edition of this book and a major update based on more current recommendations and treatment options.
Like any good owner’s manual, this book starts out with some basic information about how eyes work. There are plenty of clear diagrams to which readers can refer as Dr Cassel describes the parts of the eye more detail. He then describes how our eyes see and provides clear illustrations to help explain the text. He discusses what it means when we describe a person as nearsighted or farsighted and what astigmatism is. In the second part of the book, he describes in detail what’s involved with an eye exam and the different types of eye professionals that a patient may have contact with, including optometrists, ophthalmologists, and opticians. He describes the scope of practice for these different eye professionals and how they work together as a team to promote healthy eyes.
Next, he describes the three common diseases of the eye: cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, and outlines how they are treated. For each of the major diseases, he describes what it is and symptoms patients may experience. He reviews who would be at risk and how the disease can be prevented. He also describes the different treatments that can be offered to patients from medications to surgery. These are very useful chapters to review with patients with a new diagnosis of cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration.
In the fourth part of the book, Dr Cassel describes other common eye problems including those that are sometimes seen in primary care like conjunctivitis, blepharitis, corneal abrasions, dry eye, common retinal disorders, and optic nerve disorders. This part is organized by the anatomy of the eye. He starts by describing the common disorders of the eyelid and then moves on to the cornea, the conjunctiva, the tear ducts, the uvea, the retina, and the optic nerve. Each potential disorder is given a brief synopsis that includes a description of the disorder, symptoms, and treatment. Readers would have to have some familiarity with anatomy to know where to look for the specific disorder that they are concerned about, but each description does provide a clear synopsis.
In the last part, he describes more in detail how our vision can be affected by our health as we age, including how common comorbid conditions like diabetes and hypertension can affect our vision, some common medications that can affect our eyes, and finally, what resources are available if a patient develops impaired vision or blindness. Given the prevalence of diabetes and the impact of diabetic retinopathy, it was surprising that this section did not garner more space. Yet, the text does provide information about risk factors and screening recommendations as well as potential treatments available.
While this book provides comprehensive information about ophthalmology for adults, it was surprising that there was nothing about vision in children. In primary care, addressing vision in children is a common question and there is often some angst and confusion amongst parents on this subject. To be a truly comprehensive owner’s manual of the eye, information about pediatric vision concerns would be crucial, including how eye exams are tailored to children in the ophthalmologist office, how parents can prepare their children for eye exams, and some of the common eye disorders seen in childhood, like amblyopia. Yet, as a basic summary of eye care in the adult patient, this book serves its purpose. It is clearly written and provides just the right amount of detail to be of interest to the reader looking to learn more about their vision health or for the family physician looking for ways to describe the basics of eye care to curious patients.