Ten Tips on Textbooks to Thrive in Ophthalmology

Dr. Amanda Mohanan
Dr. Prabrisha Banerjee
Published Online: April 1st, 2021 | Read Time: 15 minutes, 56 seconds

At the very outset, please allow us to congratulate you on having chosen to specialize in ophthalmology. Welcome to this fascinating world!

Most of us breeze through ophthalmology during our MBBS by reading either Parsons or any other textbook available out there which suits us. Unlike, say medicine, where we are familiar with books like Harrison's, in ophthalmology, we find it rarely necessary to venture beyond the essential texts, unless perhaps for a seminar preparation or the like.

As a result, today, as the newly joined ophthalmology resident, it is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed, and a bit lost when you enter the library and see the whole world of ophthalmic literature available. So, we thought it would be a good idea to make a list of textbooks to help the beginner navigate this world.

Of course, each one of us is unique, and we have different learning styles. We have tried to curate a list of the 'most popular' books and it is far from complete, let alone perfect. But please, please do not restrict your reading to this list alone – you never know which pearl you might find unless you explore them yourself. Meanwhile, do keep in mind that the list of 'recommended' books is provided in the curriculum.

1. Getting Started

The conventional dictum in academics is from known to unknown. Thus, it is always better to start reading the books that you have used as an undergraduate student.

  • Parsons' Diseases of the Eye
  • Comprehensive Ophthalmology by A.K. Khurana

2. Comprehensive Textbooks

As a beginner, it is good to choose a core, comprehensive textbook. This book would be the ideal starting point, henceforth covering common topics comprehensively but not necessarily extensively.

  • Kanski's Clinical Ophthalmology
  • Ophthalmology by Yanoff and Duker
  • Postgraduate Ophthalmology by Zia Chaudhuri
  • Modern Ophthalmology by Dutta L.C.

3. Book Series

Once you start reading a topic from the comprehensive books listed above, many a time you will feel your knowledge has huge lacunae. Common points which everyone should know would be covered, but there is much more. And quite often, you will find many conditions just having a passing mention or none at all. At this juncture, jumping directly to a reference textbook or a book covering the condition alone might feel quite daunting. The following set of books helps with this transition. We can say they are a step forward from the comprehensive books and a step behind the upcoming lists of reference books.

  • AAO – Basic and Clinical Science Course
  • Modern System of Ophthalmology (MSO series)
  • Albert and Jakobiec's Principles and Practice of Ophthalmology
  • Peyman's Principles and Practice of Ophthalmology
  • Duane’s Ophthalmology

4. Basics

Like any clinical subject, it is imperative to be well versed in the basics of ophthalmology. While most books cover relevant applied aspects with respective chapters, when you want to delve deeper, the following books may help.

  • Anatomy and Physiology of Eye by A.K. Khurana
  • Wolff's Anatomy of Eye and Orbit
  • Adler's Physiology of the Eye
  • Clinical Anatomy of the Eye (Richard S. Snell)
  • Clinical Anatomy of the Visual System (Lee Ann Remington)

5. Refraction

Refraction is both a science and an art - something which can only be learned by doing. The following list of books would help with the 'science' part, but the 'art' part is exclusively left to you.

  • Clinical Optics by A.R. Elkington
  • Theory and Practice of Optics and Refraction by A.K. Khurana
  • Duke Elder's Practice of Refraction
  • Clinical Optics from AAO series

6. Subspecialty

By now, you have already become aware of how vast ophthalmology is. Books dealing with particular aspects of an ophthalmic ailment are also available. While useful review articles would be the most current and concise resource for a resident, the common reference textbooks recommended in each specialty are as follows:

  • Cornea by Krachmer, Mannis & Holland
  • Shields' Textbook of Glaucoma
  • Becker-Shaffer'sDiagnosis and Therapy of the Glaucomas
  • Walsh and Hoyt's Clinical Neuro-ophthalmology: The Essentials
  • Manual of Systematic Eye Lid Surgery by J R O Collin
  • Ryan's Retina
  • Uveitis, Fundamentals, and Clinical Practice by Nussenblatt& Whitcup
  • Strabismus Simplified by Pradeep Sharma

7. Ready reference

In the clinics, it is convenient to carry with you a ready reference handbook that covers the most common conditions.

  • The Wills Eye Manual
  • Oxford Handbook of Ophthalmology
  • Moorfield’s Manual of Ophthalmology

8. Surgery

Ophthalmology is a surgical specialty, and while everyone is familiar with cataract surgery, each subspecialty has its fair share of surgeries. It is neither necessary nor possible to learn the nuances of every operation. However, a resident should know everything possible of common surgeries that he/she may perform or assist.

  • Cataract surgery by Roger F Steinert
  • Phacodynamics: Mastering the Tools & Techniques of Phacoemulsification Surgery by Barry S. Seibel
  • Stallard's Eye Surgery

9. Exam-oriented books

Unlike earlier days, currently, some books are available to help orient the resident to the kind of questions asked in exams. Past question papers remain the primary source for theory examinations, however, for practical examinations, some guidance books are available.

  • Aravind FAQs in Ophthalmology
  • Ophthalmology Examinations Review by Tien Wein Wong
  • Ophthalmology Clinics for Postgraduates by Namrata Sharma

10. Miscellaneous Topics

Ophthalmic evaluation of a patient is a long procedure, and most of us are restricted to a torchlight exam at MBBS level. Right from the basic slit lamp exam onwards, it is a new territory to almost all residents. Learning the right technique is necessary, and these are habits formed for life. These books would be a good companion for the beginner in this aspect.

  • Practical Ophthalmology: A Manual for Beginning Residents by AAO
  • Clinical Examination in Ophthalmology by P. K. Mukherjee

Likewise, there are many diagnostic modalities, clinical tests, and machine-based tests. Books and atlases are available in the armamentarium which aids in acquiring the skill to use such amenities as well as in the interpretation of the test results. Most of the latest diagnostic techniques and procedures are covered in a regularly updated series.

  • ‘Recent Advances in Ophthalmology’ by H V Nema

One of the oft-repeated advantages in ophthalmology is the fact that you can directly visualize what you are dealing with. This also means that even if you have not seen a condition, you can know all about it through pictures. There are atlases available covering the subject comprehensively and for different specialties and investigations, which are invaluable resources.

To conclude

Thompson et al had expressed that the book is a compact, tangible instrument for transferring knowledge. Its physical qualities including the feel of the binding, the paper, and the creative illustrations appeal to the other senses of the book-readers. They prepared a list of 100 noteworthy books of the 20th century based on the consensus of the ophthalmological society which has been displayed in Table 1.1


Norris, Oliver. System of Diseases of Eye. 1897-1900.

Wood C. The American Encyclopedia of Ophthalmology. 1913-1921.

Berens C. The Eye and Its Diseases. 1936-1949.

Duke-Elder S. Textbook & System of Ophthalmology. 1941-1972.

Adler FH. Physiology of the Eye. 1933-1992.

May CH. Manual of Diseases of the Eye. 1900-1973.

Vaughan D, Asbury T. General Ophthalmology. 1958-1999.

American Academy of Ophthalmology. Basic and Clinical Science Course. 1940-2000.

Grant M. Toxicology of the Eye. 1962.

Duane T. Clinical Ophthalmology. 1976.

Fraunfelder F, Roy FH. Current Ocular Therapy. 1980.

Spalton D, Hitchings RA, Hunter PA. Atlas of Ophthalmology. 1984.

Albert D, Jacobiec F. Principles and Practice of Ophthalmology. 1994.


Smith H. The Treatment of Cataract. 1910.

Arruga H. Cirugia Ocular. 1946.

Kirby DB. Surgery of Cataract. 1950.

Kelman C. Phacoemulsification and Aspiration: the Kelman Technique of Cataract Removal. 1975.

Jaffe N. Cataract Surgery and Its Complications. 1972.

Eisner G. Augenchirurgie. 1973.


Axenfeld T. The Bacteriology of the Eye. 1908.

Vogt A. Atlas of the Slit Lamp. 1921.

Berliner ML. Biomicroscopy of the Eye. 1943-1949.

Castroviejo R. Keratectomy & Keratoplasty. 1964.

Donaldson D. Atlas of External Diseases of the Eye. 1966.

Fedukowicz HB. External Infections of the Eye. 1963.

Grayson M. Diseases of the Cornea. 1979.

Krachmer JH, Mannis M, Holland E. Cornea. 1997.


Elliot R. Treatise on Glaucoma. 1922.

Uribe-Troncoso M. A Treatise on Gonioscopy. 1947.

Sugar HS. The Glaucomas. 1951.

Becker B, Shaffer R. Diagnosis & Therapy of Glaucomas. 1961.

Ascher K. The Aqueous Veins. 1961.

Chandler PA, Grant WM. Lectures on Glaucoma. 1965.

Shields MB. Textbook of Glaucoma. 1982.

Anderson D. Testing the Field of Vision. 1982.

Alward WL. Color Atlas of Gonioscopy. 1994.


Wilbrand H, Saenger A. Die Neurologie des Auges. 1900-1922.

Posey WC, Spiller WG. The Eye and Nervous System. 1906.

Inouye T. Sehsto¨rungen bei Schussverletzungen. 1909.

Traquair H. An Introduction to Clinical Perimetry. 1927.

Cogan DG. The Neurology of the Ocular Muscles. 1945.

Walsh F. Clinical Neuro-ophthalmology. 1947.

Bender M. The Oculomotor System. 1964.

HoytWF, Beeston D. The Ocular Fundus in Neurologic Disease. 1966.

Smith L, Glaser J. The University of Miami Neuro-ophthalmology Symposia. 1965-1980.

Leigh J, Zee D. The Neurology of Eye Movement. 1983. Loewenfeld IE. The Pupil. 1993.


Jackson E. Skiascopy and Its Practical Application. 1895.

Gullstrand A. Monochromatische Aberrationen. 1900.

Obrig T. Contact Lenses. 1942.

Mandell R. Contact Lens Practice. 1965.

Milder B, Rubin M. The Fine Art of Prescribing Glasses Without Making a Spectacle of Yourself. 1979.


Maddox E. Tests and Studies of Ocular Muscles. 1898.

Worth C. Squint. 1903.

Howe L. The Muscles of the Eye. 1907-1908.

Peter LC. The Extra-Ocular Muscles. 1927.

Bielschowsky A. Lectures on Motor Anomalies. 1940.

Scobee R. The Oculorotary Muscles. 1947.

Burian H, von Noorden G. Binocular Vision and Ocular Motility. 1974.


Ishihara S. Ishihara Charts for Color Blindness. 1917.

Waardenburg PJ. Das menschlichen Auge und seine Erbanlangen. 1932.

Franc¸ois J. L’He´re´dite´ en Ophtalmologie. 1958.

Franceschetti A, Franc¸ois J, Babel J. Les He´re´do-de´ge´neresences Chorio-re´tiniennes. 1963.

Krill A. Hereditary Retinal and Choroidal Diseases. 1972.


Ramon y Cajal S. Structure of the Retina. 1894-1933.

Woods AC. Endogenous Uveitis. 1956-1961.

Gonin J. Le De´collement de la Re´tine. 1934.

Meyer-Schwickerath G. Lichtkoagulation. 1959.

Schepens C. Retinal Detachment & Allied Diseases. 1983.

Cibis P. Vitreoretinal Pathology and Surgery in Retinal Detachment. 1965.

Gass JD. Stereoscopic Atlas of Macular Disease. 1970.

Shields J. Intraocular Tumors. 1983. Ryan SJ. Retina. 1989.


Czermak W. Augena¨rztlichen Operationen. 1907-1908.

Meller J. Ophthalmic Surgery. 1908.

Whitnall SE. The Anatomy of the Human Orbit. 1921.

Sheehan JE. Plastic Surgery of the Orbit. 1927.

Wheeler JM. The Collected Papers ofJMW. 1939.

Spaeth E. Newer Methods of Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery. 1925.

Hughes WL. Reconstructive Surgery of the Eyelids. 1943.

Stallard HB. Eye Surgery. 1946. Fox SA.

Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery. 1952.

Mustarde´ JC. Repair and Reconstruction in the Orbital Region. 1966.

Beard C. Ptosis. 1969.

Jones L, Wobig JL. Surgery of the Eyelids and Lacrimal System. 1976.

Henderson JW. Orbital Tumors. 1973.

Dutton J. Atlas of Clinical & Surgical Orbital Anatomy. 1994.


Fuchs E. Lehrbuch der Augenheilkunde. 1889.

Parsons JH. The Pathology of the Eye. 1904-1908.

Salzmann M. Anatomie und Histologie des menschlichen Augapfels im Normalzastande, seine Entwicklung und sein Altern. 1912.

Fuchs A. Atlas of the Histopathology of Eye. 1924.

Mann IC. Development of the Human Eye. 1928.

Collins ET, Mayou MS. Pathology and Bacteriology of the Eye. 1918.

Wessely K, ed. Auge. 1928-1937.

Wolff E. The Anatomy of the Eye and Orbit. 1933.

Reese A. Tumors of the Eye. 1951.

Friedenwald J, et al. Ophthalmic Pathology. 1952.

Hogan MJ, Zimmerman L. Pathology of the Eye. 1962.

Spencer W. Ophthalmic Pathology. 1985.

Hogan MJ, Alvarado JA, Weddell JE. Histology of the Eye. 1971.

Table 1: The List of 100 Important 20th-Century Ophthalmic Books Within Each Subspecialty Area(Thompson HS, Blanchard DL. One Hundred Important 20th-Century Ophthalmic Books. Arch Ophthalmol. 2001;119:761-63.)


We do not have any financial disclosures with regard to any of the books mentioned. Data collected for the purpose of this article has been from ophthalmologists who are undergoing or have undergone training in India.

Dr. Amanda Mohanan
Dr. Amanda Mohanan is currently pursuing uvea fellowship at Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai. She has completed her MS from Amala Institute of Medical Sciences, Thrissur in 2014. Subsequently, she has undergone fellowship in cataract surgery from Ahalia Eye Institute, Palakkad, medical retina from Giridhar Eye Institute, Kochi and cornea and ocular surface from Darshan Eye Care, Chennai. She was awarded FICO in 2016 and MRCS Ed in 2019. She also holds an MBA in health care services and PG diploma in Medicolegal studies.
Dr. Prabrisha Banerjee
Dr. Prabrisha Banerjee is currently pursuing her fellowship in Orbit, Oculoplasty, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Services at Sankara Nethralaya. She has completed her M.B.B.S from Sichuan Medical University (P.R.China). Her journey in Ophthalmology began with at R.I.O, Kolkata where she did her diploma (D.O). Following D.O., She went on to complete her secondary DNB from Sankara Nethralaya. After her post-graduation, she has served as a senior resident in the Department of Ophthalmology at S.S.K.M Hospital, Kolkata. She has few presentations at various state and national conferences to her credits.
Acknowledgment: We would like to sincerely thank everyone who has spared time from their busy schedules especially amidst this pandemic to share their book recommendations.
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