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November 22, 1995

Clinical Ophthalmology: A Systematic Approach

Author Affiliations

University of Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary Chicago, Ill

JAMA. 1995;274(20):1637-1638. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530200075045

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While I was in medical school, my father, a general ophthalmologist practicing since the 1950s, often enticingly described his chosen field as a "gentleman's specialty." By this I think he referred to the delicacy of eye microsurgery, the intellectual crossroads of the organ between multiple branches of basic and clinical sciences, and the fact that ophthalmologists usually get good results.

As usual, my father was right. He might have added, however, that ophthalmology is an artist's specialty. So much of ophthalmologic practice involves simple visual pattern recognition. I don't mean to minimize the cerebral machinations involved in deducing the cortical lesion responsible for a homonymous superior quadrantanopsia, or the technical skill required to peel a proliferative membrane off a diabetic's retina, or even the (often arduous) detective work required to figure out why a Medicare recipient doesn't like her new bifocal glasses.

However, much of the challenging as well as

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