“An easy to use resource that can fit in a lab coat pocket”

University of Plymouth lecturer, Dr Gunnar Schmidtman, talks with OT  about a concise guide for optical students and clinicians

Dr Gunnar
Johannes Nadeno
Dr Gunnar Schmidtmann is a lecturer in optometry at the University of Plymouth. He has published a concise guide that enables students and clinicians to quickly find key facts related to optical practice. Dr Schmidtmann talks to OT about the development of the resource.

Why did you write Clinical Vision Science: A Concise Guide to Numbers, Laws, and Formulas?

The idea for this book came when I started as a lecturer at Plymouth University in 2017. I was confronted with a completely new module which I had to create. Inspired by Dr Andrew Logan from Glasgow Caledonian University, I decided to develop weekly documents, which I called Topic Documents.

At the end of the term, I had a lot material and I decided to ask the students for feedback. I asked them, if you had a handbook which covers various topics within the optometry programme, what would you like to include?

Students, trainees and clinicians in the fields of ophthalmology, optometry and related subjects are often confronted with a vast number of facts to memorise and to recall during their studies and in practice.

I thought that a small handbook that fits into a lab coat pocket would be the ideal resource for students and trainees in these fields. This is what inspired the production of this work. I got in touch with Springer out of curiosity to see whether they would be interested, and they got back to me saying they were.

Can you tell OT what the book covers? 

It has ten chapters. It covers a range of optometry-related topics – starting from basic things such as trigonometry and important units before going into physical optics, visual optics, ophthalmic lenses, optical instruments, visual perception and clinical procedures such as retinoscopy. There is a chapter on anatomy and a little bit on binocular vision. Each chapter contains a range of tables, formulas, large illustrations and flow charts to allow readers to quickly and accurately find key facts for each type of examination procedure.

My intention from the beginning was to have short paragraphs and bullet points rather than a lot of text. I wanted to use clear illustrations, big tables as well as diagrams and flow charts. There is a box at the end of each section that summarises the key take home messages for each of the chapters.

The book has 159 pages, including the index. I think for now it is the right size because it is not overwhelming – you do not get lost in the book. You can easily carry it around.

How does it feel to have the book published?

It feels good to have it finished but at the same time one feels a bit nervous about it. I keep wondering if everything is correct – there are so many variables and a lot of equations in there.

The most rewarding thing has been seeing the final result. The book took two years to put together, from 2017 until autumn 2019. Last year I spent a couple of weeks in Canada as a visiting scholar and I remember drawing diagrams on the plane to Toronto because I couldn’t sleep.

All in all, it has been an enjoyable experience. I personally like writing and creating illustrations. I hope it will be useful for students and something that they consult on a regular basis.

Who would the book be useful for?

This is definitely a book that is universal. There is nothing in there that is only applicable in the UK. My intention from the beginning was that this would be a user-friendly guide to anything that is related to numbers, laws and formulas in vision science and clinical settings. I could imagine this could be useful for clinicians, trainees and students in ophthalmology, optometry, orthoptics and ophthalmic dispensing. It is an easy to use resource that can fit in a lab coat pocket. You can find key information without consulting a textbook or looking things up on the internet.

How has your experience as a lecturer influenced the creation of this resource?

Having feedback from my students here at Plymouth meant I included chapters in the book that I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t had that insight. I was involved in the clinical skills module at Plymouth and I realised that there are certain questions, especially in the first and second year, that come up over and over again. These reoccurring questions have influenced the chapters that I have decided to include in the book.

Clinical Vision Science: A Concise Guide to Numbers, Laws, and Formulas
is published by Springer.