• Sutures for Cataracts: What Oral Exams Were Like in 1959


    In 1959, the three-day oral exams of the American Board of Ophthalmology took place in St. Louis. I traveled from Indianapolis by train. It was an exam to be remembered.

    My examiner for the surgical part of the exam was from New York City. He asked me to describe my technique for intracapsular cataract surgery. My description included the use of three 6-0 black silk sutures to close the corneal incision. At that statement, the examiner excitedly called to other examiners present, “Hear this guy from the cornfields of Indiana who is using sutures in cataract surgery.”

    Conrad Berens, MD, was my examiner in ocular motility. Fortunately, the instruments I had brought for the exam included several that Dr. Berens had designed. He was pleased and only asked me to explain the use of each of these instruments.

    Another examiner stopped me at the door as I entered an examining room. A patient was sitting at the far side of the room. He asked me to look at the patient from that point and present a possible ocular diagnosis. I noticed the tall, slender physique and long fingers, so I responded, “From here it could be Marfan’s syndrome. I would look for a lens subluxation.” Thus his inquiries ended.

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