“Retina continues to be a specialty that’s exciting both medically and surgically. It’s really a great time to be a retina specialist.” – Anita Agarwal, MD
I had my early medical education in India with my residency and a fellowship there. Then I moved to the states and did my residency and one of my fellowships with Don Gass, my mentor, whose book I continued on after his passing. I became a faculty member alongside Don, and that really gave me a lot of insight into how his mind worked and how he managed to describe so many new conditions, and understood the pathogenesis of other conditions. Somehow it transplanted to me as I spent more time with him — the more I got comfortable, the more I understood the way he thought.
As a medical student, I usually directed the ophthalmoscope, looking at retinal exams in a lot of patients. I realized that the retina is a window to the rest of the body. I like solving mysteries, and it looked like the retina was one place where I could see things and figure out what was going on elsewhere in the body, and that’s what really attracted me to retina initially. As I got into it, I realized that there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s a very delicate structure: it gives you just that little window to treat it, and if you don’t catch it and treat it right then, you might lose. So the fact that you have to be alert and on your toes all the time, is the challenge that stimulates me.
Don Gass published the Atlas of Macular Disease as his own personal experience, and everything that’s written in this book is from Don’s own experience and what he learned, diagnosed, and evaluated over 40 years in his medical career. This is a unique book in that it was written by a single author in our field, and he’s an author who described at least 25 to 30 new diseases. The plan is to continue what he did. He tried to make this book pretty unique and different from other books. The entire book is like a story — the story of each patient unfolds to several photographs and descriptions. With this he tries to convey not only the common features of retinal diseases, but all the unusual and rare manifestations of diseases too.
Gass’ Atlas of Macular Disease, 5th Edition has about 5,500 color pictures. We tried hard to make the pictures as large as possible, and have the newer modalities such as optical coherence tomography (OCT). The book is a comprehensive and an exhaustive textbook of information that any good clinician needs to make a good diagnosis and manage a patient. The idea of the book is for a clinician to make a good diagnosis, and to understand why a certain disease looks a certain way and how it’s different from something else that it closely resembles.
Anita Agarwal, MD is a Professor of Ophthalmology in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She is considered one of the leading US researchers in macular disease. She is an author of Gass’ Atlas of Macular Diseases.
Dr. Agarwal holds her MD from Mangalore University and completed an internship in transitional medicine at the university, as well as an internship in pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. She was a resident in ophthalmology at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh, India and University of Florida, and held fellowships in retina research at the University of Minnesota, medical retina at Vanderbilt University, and surgical retina and vitreous at West Virginia University. Dr. Agarwal is certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology, and a member of the Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Tennessee Academy of Ophthalmology, and the American Society of Retina Surgeons.