Published in Refractive Management
Why "Optics for the New Millennium" Is a Must-Have Resource for Ophthalmology Residents
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11 min read
Pick up a copy of Optics for the New Millennium, a textbook that breaks down the far-reaching subject of optics into digestible bites for residents, trainees, and practicing ophthalmologists.
Driven by his passion for resident and fellow education, Kamran Riaz, MD, along with co-authors G. Vike Vicente, MD, and Daniel Wee, MD, has created Optics for the New Millennium. This one-of-a-kind textbook serves as a comprehensive manual on optics by providing both didactics and assessment questions along with 375+ original figures. With a focus on the day-to-day relevance of optics, the “one-stop compendium” is intended to bring value not only to students but also to practicing ophthalmologists.
Currently, Dr. Riaz is a clinical associate professor and the Director of Medical Student Education at the Dean McGee Eye Institute at the University of Oklahoma. He began his career in academic ophthalmology as an assistant professor and the Director of Refractive Surgery in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at the University of Chicago. Before, he was chief resident at Northwestern University and then completed his fellowship training in cornea, external disease, and refractive surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
He has a regional referral base for managing a spectrum of conditions, particularly focusing on managing complications from cataract surgery, secondary IOL surgery, and complex corneal surgery. Additionally, he has authored over 50 publications and 65 presentations at national and international ophthalmology meetings.
Dr. Riaz has been an invited lecturer and surgical wet-lab instructor at several conferences, as well as an invited visiting professor, both nationally and internationally, at multiple academic institutions. He has taken on several leadership positions, including serving on the ASCRS Young Eye Surgeon (YES) Clinical Committee. In April 2022, he was awarded the Aesculapian Teaching Award from the OU College of Medicine—the first ophthalmologist to ever receive this award since its inception in 1962.
Eyes On Eyecare sat down with Dr. Riaz to uncover his inspiration and aspirations for the book.
Riaz: Optics has historically been a subject that nearly all residents and trainees hate immensely. While masterfully written, most of the previously published textbooks are either difficult to understand for the average reader or incomplete for a modern ophthalmology practice. Thus, most trainees feel that optics is irrelevant and useless—yet, optics permeates nearly everything we do in current ophthalmic practices.
I imagine my experiences as a resident with optics were similar to most trainees; perhaps it is no surprise that on the optics section of my first year in-service (OKAPs) exam, I scored at the 10th percentile. I then took it upon a challenge for myself to learn the subject. I read nearly every available resource (often painfully and patiently) to learn and digest the material slowly.
In the words of the legendary Forrest Gump, “I am not an intelligent man”; I realized I needed to change how the material was presented.
Riaz: The challenge was maintaining the content but changing the context in which it was offered. For today’s millennial learner (a term I use with endearing respect), we needed a different style: a recipe that incorporated a heavy dose of “here’s why you should care about topic x,” a dash of humor, plenty of images, and a sprinkling of practice questions for self-assessment of understanding the material. We let that slow cook for 2 years.
I also saw that optics textbooks historically limited themselves to geometric optics, primarily equation-based, mathematical optics that again seem irrelevant to trainees. Therefore, I wanted to include not only geometric optics but also clinical optics and surgical optics; we show the relevance of the information learned in the first type of optics in the second and third parts of the book.
Riaz: I wanted to write the book with the same approach I used to teach optics to my junior colleagues over the past 7 years; an approach that maintained the scientific accuracy of the material but also one that incorporated educational techniques, such as humor, images, and mnemonics (with a few pop culture references thrown in), that make learners appreciate and remember the material.
Therefore, when I considered my co-editors, I approached Vike Vicente and Danny Wee specifically—not only because I had hopes they would say yes to my insane idea of writing an optics textbook but also because they were just crazy enough like me to want to utilize this approach in writing the book. We have implemented this throughout the book.
For example, the concept of lens effectivity is built upon the premise of Pinocchio telling lies that cause his glasses to move closer or further from his eye, and the chapter on telescopes is written in a pirate voice with the premise that the reader is a young pirate trying to construct telescopes to search for enemy ships.
We thought this non-serious style of teaching serious material was necessary so that today’s young readers would be educated and entertained while reading the book.
Riaz: In addition to the educational styles mentioned above, we are particularly proud of the book being an optics resource that serves as a one-stop-shop resource for all the optics that ophthalmologists will need to know for written exams, oral board exams, clinical practice, and surgical planning for cataract and refractive surgery.
To our knowledge, no other textbook that serves as an optics compendium exists in the published literature. We wanted this to be a textbook that trainees and practitioners could use.
Riaz: We envision that junior residents will be most interested in Part I (Geometric Optics), whereas post-graduates studying for oral board exams will be interested in Part II (Optics for Oral Boards and Clinical Practice).
We also envision practitioners having this book available as a desktop resource that they periodically consult for Part II (Clinical Practice) and Part III (Optics for Surgical Practice).
For example, Part III has a chapter titled “What’s on the Menu: An Overview of Currently-Available IOLs.” We are particularly proud of this chapter as it covers every available IOL in the United States (single-piece monofocal, three-piece monofocal, toric, presbyopia-correcting, and extreme power IOLs) that would also be of interest to practicing ophthalmologists.
Our textbook also contains several chapters focusing on topics that have historically been neglected and relegated to the domain of optometrists and opticians. For example, we have two chapters dedicated to contact lens fitting and one for clinical refraction of glasses; one chapter details low vision rehabilitation options and techniques, and another chapter details how to troubleshoot and fix glasses.
We hope these three chapters will make ophthalmologists better appreciate what our optometric, low vision rehabilitation, and optician colleagues do daily in the holistic care of patients with ocular pathology.
While optics textbooks historically focused on geometric optics, we believe that ophthalmologists will appreciate our book because it combines geometric optics, clinical optics, and surgical optics into a singular compendium resource.
Riaz: We think (and hope!) that residents will use this book starting from day one of residency, either as a book they purchase themselves or one their respective training program provides! We still want residents to read the BCSC Optics book (required reading material for residents), but we believe our textbook better explains some of the core concepts with dozens of examples to reinforce those points.
Also, with respect to the BCSC Optics book (and I can say this since I am part of the authors for this textbook as well), the writing style is formal and may seem overwhelming for first-time readers. We hope our textbook is more approachable, explains the concepts more clearly, and allows students to consult more advanced books later if they choose.
After graduation, as residents prepare for written and oral board exams, we hope they find our book a helpful resource. We think Part II and III are particularly relevant for oral board exam preparation.
Riaz: We believe practicing ophthalmologists will periodically find Part II helpful for diagnosing and treating commonly-encountered clinical problems with optics presentations, manifestations, and implications. However, we think that practicing ophthalmologists, especially cataract and refractive surgeons, will find Part III to be the most interesting, particularly when preparing for unique surgical cases.
Riaz: Personally, I am fascinated with developments (technological and philosophical) in IOL power calculations. We are constantly pursuing refractive accuracy perfection in cataract surgery—we all want happy patients! In recent years, many new machines, formulas, and ideas regarding IOL power calculations have emerged as areas of clinical and research interest. Amazingly, optics permeates and influences this entire field!