Does the image above represent art or medicine? I’ll let you decide. Either way, as a PA student, you may be able to make a diagnosis just from the image. Our class was just tested on our first run-through of opthalmology. It’s a fascinating area of medicine, and one in which a primary care PA can make a difference by recognizing an abnormal finding. The image above represents a branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO) — a blockage of the vessel that drains blood from the retina to return it to the heart. Seeing this under during direct examination could explain a sudden deterioration of vision, and hint at other health problems elsewhere in the body. The blog by the ophthalmic photographer has many such images, in higher resolution, and it’s definitely worth a visit (if you go there, check out the cross sectional CT of a retinal occlusion – amazing!) After hours of lectures on the eye, I found these photos fascinating and enlightening. But even without PA training, they have an eerie beauty. And if you’re thinking about becoming a physician assistant, imagine that as a PA, understanding what you’re seeing here could save your patient’s vision — or even their life. Enjoy.