By Andrew Lam, M.D.
Andrew Lam, a Longmeadow eye surgeon, is fascinated by the eye, even as he recognizes that many others are put off by the soft, jelly-like organ. “The eye freaks a lot of people out,” he says. Even many medical students, he notes, “might be as likely as my twin seven-year-old girls to think that working on the eyeball is just plain gross.”
But in “Saving Sight,” Lam, who also teaches at Tufts University’s School of Medicine, offers a highly readable account of his experiences in the operating room, and he profiles a number of famous ophthalmologists and doctors who diagnosed eye diseases or developed new techniques for saving eyesight.
British ophthalmologist Harold Ridley, for instance, invented the artificial intraocular lens (IOL) for cataract patients in the late 1940s and 1950s, but his ideas faced considerable opposition from established ophthalmologists at the time. Ridley had been inspired to develop the IOL after examining a British pilot from World War II whose eyes had been pierced by chips of Plexiglas from the shattered canopy of his fighter plane; the pilot did not suffer any eye infection, despite the severity of his injures, which convinced Ridley an artificial lens could be placed in an eye.
A word to the wise: If you’re squeamish about reading about those kinds of injuries, you might find parts of “Saving Sight” tough sledding. The book begins with Lam’s story of operating on an auto mechanic whose right eye had been torn by a tiny piece of metal. And he doesn’t stint on the details; some accounts have a bit of a cringe factor.
Get past that, though, and “Saving Sight” presents this and other stories in a clear, personable way that will likely give readers a good understanding of how the eye works, and convey the stress and joy eye surgeons feel as they try to turn darkness into light.
Andrew Lam will speak about his book and his work as an eye surgeon at Forbes Library in Northampton on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
WHEN HATE HAPPENS, SO DOES OTHER BAD STUFF
By Richard G. Dumont
“Why would anyone want to write a book about hate?” Richard G. Dumont writes in the introduction to his book “When Hate Happens, and Other Bad Stuff.” His basic answer? There’s a growing level of “existential insecurity” — a generalized feeling of vulnerability — in the United States stemming from economic worries and other concerns, which in turn is leading to anger, hatred and scapegoating.
Dumont, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst who’s now a retired sociology professor, ticks off some of the more recent mass killings and acts of violence in the U.S. and abroad, from the rampage of Anders Behring Breivik in Norway in 2011 to the shootings of six Sikhs in a temple in Wisconsin by a white supremacist in 2012. In these and other cases, he says, hatred of different racial and ethnic groups of people motivated the killers.
Taken together, Dumont adds, hatred and intolerance and economic insecurity threaten to bring about even more violence. What’s needed, he writes, is a greater understanding of the biological, psychological and sociological roots of hate and more respect for diversity and difference. His book, which he says is jargon-free, aims to promote those values and reduce the trend of what he calls “manifest hate.”