“It reminded me of a non-Italian trying to eat pasta”

Had a Cream flashback when I stumbled upon a great little volume online titled At the Crossings: Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.  I delight in coming upon hidden gems that I’m not mining for, particularly as they relate to opinions not normally seen in print – the roundtable comments that can be refreshingly revelatory in their candor.  At the Crossings provided such a forum during a roundtable discussion of “One hundred years of experience: What I would have done differently and what needs to be done in the future“, held during the Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Symposium of the New Orleans Academy of Ophthalmology in 2003.


The moderator was Forrest D. Ellis, and the panel consisted of three deans of pediatric ophthalmology, Arthur Jampolsky, Marshal Parks, and Gunter K. von Noorden.  Though the discussion is only four pages (pp. 19-23),  the three icons were at the top of their game.   Jampolsky notes that 80% of strabismus management is routine, analogous to 80% of the presbyopes who can walk over to Walgreens and be perfectly happy with over-the-counter readers.  But there are 20% who are vexing, and their muscles simply don’t function the way our textbooks would lead you to believe they should.

von Noorden quips about observing an instructor doing  eye muscle surgery who reminded him of a non-Italian trying to eat pasta.


In projecting what he would like to see in the future, von Noorden opines:

“I wish for a renaissance of the type of research we were doing in the 1950s and 1960s, into the 1970s, which was the meticulous study of the phenomena the patient exhibits, shows us, tells us, wants to talk to us about. The examining chair to me has been the finest laboratory I have ever worked in. It was me and my patient …”

“So that is really one thing I would like to pass on to the young academicians in pediatric ophthalmology. If they are looking for research projects to do, there is plenty to do. And the research has not stopped because we have answered all the questions, but because … it has been taken over by the optometric profession and it has been taken over by basic scientists who work in a vacuum …

von Noorden concludes:  “There needs to be cooperation and cohesion between the basic scientist and the clinician, and this is something I have been trying to cultivate in my environment, and I think it is probably one of the best things I have done.”

The discussion ends.

Standing ovation.


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