SEP 2013

EyeWorld is the official news magazine of the American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery.

Issue link: https://digital.eyeworld.org/i/176967

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24 EW NEWS & OPINION September 2013 Chief medical editor's corner of the world Saving Sight: A great book for the public to gain insight into what we do by David F. Chang, MD Dr. Lam: I was familiar with conducting historical research because I was a history major in college, but the scientific literature also proved essential, particularly on topics like the evolution of refractive surgery, where no comprehensive history had yet been written. I was also fortunate to connect with family members, including Ann Kelman, Ellen Patz, Paula Folkman, and Nicholas Ridley (Harold Ridley's son). They provided helpful anecdotes and insight. For example, upon discussing how opponents of IOLs derailed Harold Ridley's career, Nicholas Ridley told me that his father's ensuing depres- I magine how hard it would be to write a medical history book that would equally captivate lay readers and ophthalmologists. That is exactly what practicing retina specialist Andrew Lam, MD, has accomplished with "Saving Sight: An eye surgeon's look at life behind the mask and the heroes who changed the way we see," which was just published this summer. Andrew was a Yale history major before completing his residency and vitreoretinal fellowship at Wills, and he combined these two academic interests to write a collection of short biographies of key ophthalmology pioneers. The stories of Kelman, Ridley, Patz, Schepens, Folkman, Braille, and others are interwoven with anecdotal descriptions of his experiences as a retina subspecialist and as a former ophthalmology resident. As a result the reader can understand not only the formidable obstacles that the innovators had to overcome, but the practical life-changing impact of their work as well. Judging from the positive reader reviews on Amazon, where the book has been a best seller in medicine and scientific biography, Andrew has succeeded in conveying these points to lay readers. In addition, his extensive historical research uncovered many interesting insights that most ophthalmologists may not be aware of. The chapter on how Arnall Patz solved the mystery of ROP is particularly compelling because it ironically portrays the dilemma of malpractice liability against the backdrop of major scientific advances. This should be required reading for every legislator who doesn't understand the need for medical tort reform. Saving Sight joins Second Suns (which I recommended two months ago) as a terrific read for ophthalmologists, as well as their patients, staff members, families, and friends. This month, I interviewed Andrew about the book and why he wrote it. You can learn more at www.AndrewLamMD.com David F. Chang, MD, chief medical editor Andrew Lam, MD sion "tore our family apart." The poignancy of a recollection like this can't be found in any book. And we cannot forget that real people suffered to invent the tools we take for granted today. This is also why the lay reader will be drawn to these dramatic underdog stories. You don't have to know anything about ophthalmology to appreciate the overwhelming obstacles these men faced and overcame. Ridley and Folkman were ridiculed for decades. Kelman was disparaged. Schepens almost failed to escape the Nazis. Louis Braille, who is also profiled in the book, despaired that his dot system would ever be used by anyone but himself, Dr. Chang: Please describe your new book. What gave you the idea to write a book about ophthalmic innovators for the public? Dr. Lam: Saving Sight is about the incredible stories of ophthalmology's heroes, including Harold Ridley, Charles Kelman, Charles Schepens, Arnall Patz, Judah Folkman, and the innovators who developed refractive surgery. Their amazing biographies are replete with examples of courage, defeat, serendipity, and perseverance. I thought everyone, including the general public, should have the opportunity to learn more about them. When my agent and I considered how popular a book about ophthalmic history might be, we concluded that blending the history with my memoir of surgical training would be a good way to draw in more general readers. As a result, the book brings its audience into the OR, to share the constant risks, high expectations, and occasional triumphs that all ophthalmologists find there. I also saw this as a nice chance to show the public what eye surgeons actually do. Dr. Chang: How did you perform your research on the lives of these pioneers, and what about their stories will most interest lay readers? Source: Andrew Lam, MD

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