This review is my personal evaluation and opinion of the work in question. I have not received any compensation for this review and though there may be future collaborative efforts, there is currently no affiliation to disclose.
I was recently approached by the founders of EyeGuru.org to introduce you to their online resource for beginning residents. Since we want to provide as many resources to you as possible to help you with learning and gaining proficiency in ophthalmology, I was delighted to learn about a new tool that might be helpful for many of you.
Mission and Credentials
According to their About page, EyeGuru aims to smooth out the learning curve for beginning ophthalmologists (especially 1st year residents) by providing bite-sized educational modules targeted at the fundamentals of clinical ophthalmology.
The EyeGuru team is comprised of three individuals from UCLA – two second-year ophthalmology residents, and a 2nd year medical student. Drawing from their collective and recent experiences in residency as well as their previous expertise in website publishing and ophthalmic photography, the team has delivered a great resource that may help make those first few weeks and months of ophthalmology residency much more survivable.
Content and Organization
Like us, EyeGuru is not a 100% finished product. However, they already have several courses available. Divided into “Pathology Frameworks” and “Technique Guides,” there are 12 individual modules (6 each) that cover some of the core information needed for early mastery of ophthalmology:
- How to diagnose and grade cataracts
- How to diagnose and manage dry eyes
- How to diagnose and manage corneal abrasions and ulcers
- How to diagnose and manage glaucoma
- How to diagnose and manage age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
- How to diagnose and manage diabetic retinopathy
- How to use the slit lamp (14 tips and tricks)
- How to use the indirect (11 tips and tricks)
- How to interpret OCTs (8 fundamental diseases)
- How to interpret visual fields (5 most common patterns)
- How to interpret fluorescein angiography (6 types of defects)
- How to interpret ultrasound (5 most common scans)
Each module is well-organized, with a Table of Contents Index on the left-hand side to let you skip sections. There are numerous graphics and clinical images illustrating each concept. Written in plain language, each article captures the essentials while still discussing (and referencing) some of the key literature that explains the background.
Some modules have self-assessment quizzes to help you get a better sense of how well you understand the material. Others contain links to similar resources or videos.
The clinical techniques are formatted as lists. For learning how to use a slit lamp and indirect ophthalmoscope, these lists are useful clinical hints on how the authors deftly perform the various instruments. There are some links to YouTube videos, but for the most part these articles are largely text-based.
In the articles about ancillary tests, examples of different pathologies are shown, with some simple explanations of what the images demonstrate and how the images should be interpreted. The technical background of each test lies beyond the scope of the articles; the overarching theme of each article is familiarization and pattern recognition.
Interface and Appearance
The EyeGuru team has put together a fantastic-looking website. Easy to navigate and filled with high-resolution example images, EyeGuru is poised to shape the new era of medical education. The founders have collectively been able to produce several polished and high-quality courses, and the website design is superb. To be honest, the aesthetics put this site to shame – I’ve been planning on revamping the appearance of the site once I hit 100 articles, but I might have to step up the timetable a bit.
Currently EyeGuru allows you to sign up for updates and for a free account, which basically allows you to submit comments to various articles. The team is developing flashcards (EyeGuru Decks), which are not yet available to view.
In addition to their more structured courses, EyeGuru also publishes blog articles, which highlight various topics applicable to the beginning resident. As of today (July 10, 2016) there are only 2 articles (Eye Drop Color Chart and Top 10 Ophthalmology Emergencies On Call). However, given the relative novelty of the site, I suspect that this section will grow to address a significant number of useful topics.
I’m still working on a site-wide review criteria that I can apply to my reviews, and hopefully as these reviews become more standardized, I will be able to format these reviews similarly for good side-by-side comparison. For EyeGuru, I evaluated the site for content, appearance, organization, readability, uniqueness, and universal appeal, and gave an overall score. I will explain my scores below.
- Content 90%
- Appearance 100%
- Organization 100%
- Readability 85%
- Uniqueness 95%
- Universal Appeal 60%
The content that EyeGuru offers is very high-yield and detailed. They certainly deliver on their goal of being succinct and clinically oriented. The main reason why I couldn’t give a rating higher than 90% was because while the articles were very good, the work is still ongoing – there are still pages that are unfinished, the flashcards are not yet available, and the blog has not been established yet. I’m excited to see what the future brings for this team though!
Perhaps I’m biased because I’m a bit self-conscious of how “bare bones” this site is aesthetically. Most medical education sites, especially ones run by medical professionals, tend to be fairly basic and (dare I say it) boring to look at. I suppose I feel comfortable saying it because right now this site lacks significant aesthetic appeal (though changes are coming!)
EyeGuru has set the bar high in its use of high-resolution images, simple navigation, and well-designed interface. I suspect that, in addition to the high-quality content it delivers, it will prove to appeal well to those incoming ophthalmology residents it hopes to attract.
To avoid confusion, I lumped individual article organization and overall site organization into one metric. I was very impressed by the outline-style organization of each mini-course, and the navigation sidebar on the left makes it very easy to skip to pertinent sections. The sections are divided logically and each article flows well. The site successfully provides an outline without it reading like an outline.
You might be wondering how I could give Appearance 100% but Readability 85%. I decided to rate these separately because while an overall website may have an excellent theme or design, the content itself may still be somewhat challenging to read.
Now, before anyone gets upset with my opinion, I fully acknowledge that it may be somewhat hypocritical for me to be claiming another person’s work is less than 100% readable (especially since I know my articles can ramble on). However, since this is my opinion on the book, I wanted to place myself back in my $30 dress shoes from residency and answer the question, “If I were to be reading these articles, how readable are these articles?”
There are minor formatting issues, and while the content itself is very high-yield and pertinent, there are times when extra exposition may be helpful. Granted, this may be more a stylistic preference than a more substantial critique, and since some articles are already somewhat lengthy, further explanation may go beyond the scope of the article.
One of the great strengths of the content is the intentional avoidance of dense language – perhaps because the authors are still in training right now (as of this writing two of the authors are ophthalmology residents and one is a medical student), these articles address the “big picture” view of many of these diseases and exam tools without boring the reader with minutiae.
Frankly, the materials available online for ophthalmology trainees are still somewhat sparse and uncollated. There is a concerted effort by many ophthalmologists world-wide to develop and teach ophthalmology in an organized manner, while taking advantage of the technological advances we have enjoyed over the past two decades. However, the field remains very open to enterprising people who have a passion for helping build up the online repository of ophthalmic knowledge.
To my knowledge, there are very few websites dedicated to helping the first-year resident. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has many resources in their Young Ophthalmologists forum, but its content somewhat differs from what EyeGuru offers because the AAO has the Basic and Clinical Science Course and other similar published resources to provide a deeper, systematic knowledge base that don’t always help those first-year residents assimilate the breadth and depth of information. Because its target audience is the first-year resident, EyeGuru’s entire curriculum is designed to help make that first year as successful as possible.
I agree that EyeGuru is offering residents a unique product – while the content itself is available in various forms both online and in print, this may prove to be one of the leading portals of knowledge for incoming residents.
EyeGuru was never intended to provide content applicable to every ophthalmologist. The articles and language is carefully targeted at first-year ophthalmology residents (possibly even focusing specifically at U.S. residents). As such, a board-certified ophthalmologist may read through the site and be able to admire the images or utilize some of the organizational suggestions, but may not gain much in-depth clinical knowledge. And that’s ok!
So while I feel compelled to rate EyeGuru’s universal appeal fairly low, it is more a reflection of the specialized nature of its content than a reflection of the quality of its content (similarly, a glaucoma-only site might warrant a similar rating).
Like the Wills Eye Manual, EyeGuru is and will be a must-read for all beginning ophthalmologists. Though it is still in its infancy, the site offers a great starting point for those first-year residents even now. As EyeGuru continues to build additional content on its blog, offer supplemental reviews, and expand on its courses, I expect to see EyeGuru bookmarked on most ophthalmology residents’ internet-compatible devices. EyeGuru is not sufficiently detailed for test preparation, but it is keenly tuned to help trainees through those difficult first months of residency. If you’re a first-year resident or have struggled with trying to understand some of the practical basics of ophthalmology, check out EyeGuru!
What are your thoughts on EyeGuru.org? Do you want to see more reviews of websites and other study resources? Is there anything else you would like me to review? Leave me a message or e-mail me at ophthreview [at] ophthalmologyreview [dot] org!