Refractive Anomalies, Research and Clinical Applications. By Theodor Grosvenor, OD, PhD and Merton C. Flom, OD, PhD, eds. Boston, Mass: Butterworth-Heinemann; 1991: 433 pp; $80.00.
As our century draws to a close, ophthalmology stands on the edge of a new era. Treatment modalities that might have been thought to be the stuff of science fiction are being developed before our very eyes. Spectacle correction of ametropia, which has been with us since the 1300s, may be tucked away with the player piano in some remote museum by the next century. Indeed, refractive surgery could replace correcting lenses. In keeping with the momentum of refractive surgery, we are in need of a book which puts refractive errors in the proper perspective. This book, Refractive Anomalies, Research and cal Application, prepared by scholars from optometry, the basic sciences, and medicine, provides that perspective. It is an encyclopedia of background information. For example, if you have a question concerning the incidence or prevalence of any refractive error, you will find that answer with the appropriate references in this book. Is there a theory of myopia that you would like to trace down? Again, it's sure to be in this book with all of the references. For example, the first chapter presents the first modern theory of the causation of myopia put forward by the German ophthalmologist Herman Cohn (father of the famous writer Emil Ludwig). In 1866, Dr Cohn reviewed his observations on 10 000 eyes of school children and suggested that the prevalence and amount of myopia was related to the years in school. Just about every animal model of myopia is described in this book, often written by the scientist who described and tested the model. There is even a chapter to satisfy the comparative ophthalmologist. I was fascinated to learn that the lens of the human fetus changes from a round to a biconvex shape as infancy is approached. This round lens is much like the fish lens which is spherical since the power of the cornea is neutralized by the water. Interestingly, the aquatic larvae form of the amphibian is also spherical, whereas the adult amphibian lens is of a flattened biconvex configuration.
The book closes with a look at the early results of radial keratotomy and excimer laser treatment of refractive anomalies. As to be expected, in a multiauthored book, the literary level varies with the writer of each chapter. As for the illustrations, most are graphs, and the few other illustrations are in black and white. Overall, this is an important scholarly slightly expensive reference for the serious student of ametropia.