BCSC Reading: Week 1

Week 1 Reading Assignment and Statistics

Reading Plan Book/Chapters Topics Pages Total Pages Pages/Day
AAO* Fundamentals 1-4 Anatomy, cranial nerves, embryology 5-128 123 18
Ophthalmology Review** Fundamentals 1-3 Anatomy, cranial nerves 5-110 106 15

*The AAO reading schedule is based off the 2016-2017 BCSC series, available starting June 15, 2016.

**My reading schedule is based off the 2012-2013 BCSC series, as I do not own the new editions.


Since there are multiple ways to read through the BCSC, I decided to format the reading schedule based on weeks, rather than post multiple reading events.  This also allows me to reuse these events every year, instead of creating this again next year.

The two featured reading schedules are adapted from Dr. Brian T. Chan-Kai’s article on the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s website, and the reading schedule my colleagues and I used in residency.  While my reading schedule may typically seem a bit lighter, keep in mind that Dr. Chan-Kai’s schedule takes less time (31 weeks vs. 34 weeks), and goes through 12 of the 13 texts (mine covers 11 of 13).

Additionally, Dr. Chan-Kai starts the reading two weeks into the new residency year (presumably to allow for orientation and such).  I am going to start the reading schedule on this site on July 1 for simplicity, and also to allow for a few weeks of review at the end before the OKAP.  Obviously, these are all guidelines, and you can adapt the schedule however you see fit.

For someone wanting to read through the BCSC in a year to study for the ABO Written Qualifying Exam, this reading schedule should be modified, in that the written board exam doesn’t test on Section 1:  Update on General Medicine or Section 2:  Fundamentals and Principles of Ophthalmology.

Week 1 Overview

Regardless of which reading schedule you use, reading through Section 2:  Fundamentals and Principles of Ophthalmology is probably one of the best ways to get started.  That first week of residency is an exciting time, and this first reading assignment drops you right into the core details of the eye and orbit that will become an integral part of your profession.  It’s a very challenging read on the first time through because of the level of detail, but with the level of excitement and energy brought during that first week, you will probably find this section the easiest to get through pace-wise.  Trust me, although some future readings will be much more interesting from a disease standpoint, between call, research, preparing grand rounds presentations, family obligations, and preparing for clinical experiences, this first week will be a breeze.

Week 1 Tips and Helpful Resources

For tips on reading these sections, please check out the following pages (I will be working on developing more content for this section):

Ciliary Ganglion

The ciliary ganglion lies temporal to the ophthalmic artery, inbetween the lateral rectus and optic nerve. It is approximately 1.5-2.0 cm (15-20 mm) posterior to the globe and 1.0 cm (10 mm) anterior to the Annulus of Zinn and the superior orbital fissure.
Image from: Wikipedia.

The ciliary ganglion serves as the site of synapse for the parasympathetic nerves innervating the eye.  Because of the many nerves that course through it (not all of them synapse!) and its anatomical location, this structure is of importance in learning the basics of ophthalmology.  According to the Basic and Clinical Science Course, it is located lateral to the ophthalmic artery, situated between optic nerve and lateral rectus muscle, approximately 1 cm (10 mm) anterior to the annulus of Zinn and 1.5-2 cm (15-20 mm) posterior to the globe.1-5

Continue reading “Ciliary Ganglion”

OKAP Review, Fundamentals: Orbital and Eyelid Anatomy

I’m going to shift gears a little bit and start reviews on some of the other sections.  I originally had planned to go in order of the BCSC sections and follow the OKAP content outline, but I realized that of all the sections to cover, General Medicine is one of the smallest sections in terms of content to know.  So while I will likely get back to it sometime in the future, I wanted to make sure the key subjects were discussed prior to the test.

There are many facts in the Fundamentals and Principles of Ophthalmology section of the BCSC that will likely be tested as quick recall.  I promise, I will eventually provide numerous resources and tools to help remember these facts; for this article, I will try to cover the most important concepts.  I am intentionally leaving out details that may be more challenging to test (meaning I have a hard time coming up with a practice question about it).

Continue reading “OKAP Review, Fundamentals: Orbital and Eyelid Anatomy”

BCSC Reading: Week 26

Week 26 Reading Assignment and Statistics

Reading Plan Book/Chapters Topics Pages Total Pages Pages/Day
AAO* Neuro 1-4 Neuroanatomy, neuroimaging, approach to vision loss, decreased vision (up to posterior optic neuropathy) 1-145 145 21
Ophthalmology Review** Last Minute Optics 1-4, 13

Refractive 1-4

Snell’s law, vergences, model eye, magnification, telescopes 1-22, 75-80;


90 13

*The AAO reading schedule is based off the 2015-2016 BCSC series, available starting June 15, 2015.

**My reading schedule is based off the 2012-2013 BCSC series, as I do not own the new editions.

Week 26 Overview

First full week of the new year!  Believe it or not, only a few short weeks, and you will have made it through most of the BCSC series!

The AAO Plan:

Neuro is the last hefty text to tackle, if you’re following the AAO’s plan.  Be warned, the first chapter on neuroanatomy is incredibly dense.  If you have a head for pathways, you’ll enjoy it; otherwise, the best advice I can give (in a general context) is to take it all in measured bites, and learn/review the pathways throughout the text as you learn about all of the various neuro-ophthalmic diseases.  Chapters 2 and 3 are pretty short and easy to tackle, and chapter 4 dives into the meat of neuro-ophthalmology:  decreased vision.  As we develop this site for each individual topic, my hope is to make neuro-ophthalmology a bit more palatable for most people, especially since not every residency program has a lot of exposure to neuro-ophthalmology.  Unfortunately, if you’re trying to get through the material this year, I probably won’t be able to get enough articles written in time for it to make a difference, but my hope is that eventually you’ll be able to reference some useful articles here!

Ophthalmology Review’s Plan:

In lieu of using the BCSC for learning clinical optics, we used Dr. Hunter’s Last-Minute Optics text, which is significantly shorter and teaches optics by working problems.  It provides a nice and well-needed break from the dense study material and is overall a lighter read.  Refractive surgery is become a more important and common part of comprehensive ophthalmology practice, and likewise the question emphasis on OKAPs and board exams is increasing when it comes to understanding the basic principles and science behind refractive surgery.  Don’t completely gloss over the reading, but thankfully the reading is a bit lighter now.  If you find yourself getting through the material faster in these sections, now would be a good time to start picking up some of the previous sections and reviewing.

Week 26 Tips and Helpful Resources

For tips and resources on reading these sections, please check out the following pages (I will be working on developing more content for this section):

Rapid Questions: Orbital Anatomy (Answers)

When studying ophthalmology, it can be hard to know exactly what to spend time memorizing and what to ignore.  When I asked my senior residents for advice when studying, they provided the very unhelpful advice:  “learn everything.”  Of course, it took a long while to realize that to some degree they were right – every detail we remember can be extremely helpful years down the road.  At the same time, to borrow from George Orwell, “all [ophthalmology information] is equal; but some are more equal than others.”

For those people who prefer to study by answering questions, these articles will list questions you can use to guide your study.  Answers will be provided separately.  Where possible, I will try to provide a few real-world reasons for knowing this information.  For those who are interested in a book that is formatted in a very similar fashion, check out Tamesis’ Ophthalmology Board Review: Pearls of Wisdom.

As a disclaimer, I am not intentionally copying questions directly from Tamesis or any other review resource, nor am I attempting to reproduce questions from the OKAP or Board exams – while there will most likely be many similar questions (since the whole point is to help remember all of the important aspects of ophthalmology), the organization, phrasing, and commentary are my personal take unless otherwise cited.

Orbital Anatomy (Answers – Spoiler Alert!)

Continue reading “Rapid Questions: Orbital Anatomy (Answers)”

Orbital Bones

Bones of the orbit and some of the major landmarks. Image from candelalearning.com

There are 7 bones that comprise the orbit.  It is our job as ophthalmologists to be able to readily identify these bones and know pretty much every bump, notch, hole, and contour of these bones and what structures pass through, travel along, and attach to these bones.

The bones are: Continue reading “Orbital Bones”

Jeopardy Review: Fundamentals of Ophthalmology (Round 1)

For those of you who might enjoy a Jeopardy!-style review format, I created one for some of the fundamental topics.  I admit, some of the questions may not be easily answered until you’ve studied the whole of ophthalmology, but hopefully this will be a useful review.

I created this Jeopardy!-style review at JeopardyLabs.com, which lets you create Jeopardy! boards for free!  The full-frame web version of this review can be found here.

Orbital Dimensions

When learning about orbital anatomy, the dimensions are one of the many aspects you need to know extremely well.  As you’ve probably seen in many texts, stats about the volume, height, width, and depth are almost always listed.

While the actual numbers are pretty easy to remember – they go up by 5 (25, 30, 35, 40, 45), but remember what those numbers correspond to tends to be harder to remember.  On top of that, the numbers listed are approximations; race and sex affect these average measurements, and the dimensions change with trauma and surgery.

Since there are multiple ways to organize this information, it’s important to find a method or strategy that will work for you.  If you have any suggestions or tips on how to remember these dimensions, please let us know!

Continue reading “Orbital Dimensions”

Whitnall’s Tubercle

Orbital bony structures without soft-tissue attachments. Image from Medscape.

The lateral orbital tubercle, or Whitnall’s tubercle, is found on the zygomatic bone.  According to the Basic and Clinical Science Course, it is typically around 11 mm inferior to the frontozygomatic suture (the junction between the frontal bone and zygomatic bone),1 and sits 4-5 mm posterior to the lateral orbital rim around the midline.2 Continue reading “Whitnall’s Tubercle”