The need for a textbook for undergraduate medical students in ophthalmology dealing with the basic concepts and recent advances has been felt for a long-time. Keeping in mind the changed curriculum this book is intended primarily as a first step in commencing and continuing the study for the fundamentals of ophthalmology which like all other branches of medical sciences, has taken giant strides in the recent past. While teaching the subject I have been struck by the avalanche of queries from the ever inquisitive students and my effort therefore has been to let them find the answers to all their interrogatories. It is said that revision is the best testimony to the success of a book. In the competitive market of medical text publishing, only successful books survive. Any textbook, more so, a medical one such as this, needs to be updated and revised from time to time. Yet the very task of revising Basic Ophthalmology presents a dilemma: how does one preserve the fundamental simplicity of the work while incorporating crucial but complex material lucubrated from recent research, investigations and inquiries in this ever expanding field. In essence, Basic Ophthalmology is both a ‘textbook’ and a ‘notebook’ that might as well have been written in the student’s own hand. The idea is for the student to relate to the material; and not merely to memorize it mechanically for reproducing it during an examination.
It is something I wish was available to me when I was an undergraduate student not too long ago. The past few years have witnessed not only an alarming multiplication of information in the field of ophthalmology, but more significantly, a definite paradigmatic shift in the focus and direction of ophthalmic research and study. The dominant causes of visual disabilities are no longer pathological or even genetic in nature, but instead a direct derivative and manifestation of contemporary changes in predominantly modern urban lifestyles. The student will thus find a new section devoted to a discussion on Visual Display Terminal Syndrome (VDTS) that is an outcome of excessive exposure of the eyes to the computer monitor as well as the use of contact lenses. Two additional sections deal with the Early Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) classification and Scheie’s classification for hypertensive retinopathy that replaces the pre-existent taxonomy prevalent for little less than seven decades. With posterior chamber intraocular lenses establishing themselves as the primary modality in the optical rehabilitation of patients undergoing cataract surgery, the emphasis has shifted from just visual rehabilitation to an early, perfect optical, occupational and psychological rehabilitation.