The eyes are often challenging for medical students to learn about, but there are some great educational resources out there, and I will describe one of them.
This weekend, I was again volunteering at the free clinic (Arbor Free Clinic) in Menlo Park that my medical school operates along with it’s sister clinic in San Jose (Pacific Free Clinic), and they had an ophthalmologist come in to see patients with eye related problems. There are a collection of specialities which rotate in and which accept referrals from the general clinic, and this weekend it was the eye clinic. Many common conditions, such as diabetes, put the eyes at risk, so it is important to the under-served community has access to good eye care and screening, as permanent blindness can be devastating.
I know that a lot of medical students have difficulty with things like the fundoscopic exam (looking in at the retina), and are perhaps unfamiliar with things like the slit lamp or indirect ophthalmoscope, which are not often covered in preclinical years, and students may not get exposures to these unless they do a specific rotation in ophthalmology. However, the eye is a beautiful and important organ. The ancient people who thought that looking into the eye was looking into the soul were partly right; developmentally, functionally, and molecularly it is part of the brain, so when you look into the eye at the retina, you are looking at the brain.
So how to go about learning some ophthalmology on your own? Cartoonist and ophthalmologist Timothy Root has put together some amazing resources for learning about the eye. He has written a wonderful, little yellow book that is illustrated in a charming and friendly way that teaches not only the eye exam, but also a lot on eye anatomy, physiology and pathology. It’s called the OphthoBook. However, he goes even a step beyond that and makes all the contents of the book available for free online: http://www.ophthobook.com
You can find his entertaining videos online as well. As mentioned, the slit lamp can be an intimidating and very technical looking piece of equipment, but Dr. Root does a great job breaking it down to its constituent parts, and then building it up to a tool which lets you look at many aspects of the eye and then goes through some of the different kinds of pathology it lets you see. This is just one of a whole collection of great eye related resources: http://www.ophthobook.com/videos/slit-lamp-exam-video
Do you have other good educational resources for learning ophthalmology? I’d love to hear about them in the comment section.