Evidence-Based Medicine: A Culinary Art?

The medical profession is dominated by food enthusiasts. I can’t sit through a day of ocular disease without something being compared to food – gross, right? Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy the course and am even interested in pursuing an ocular disease residency, but… “mutton fat” precipitates? Port wine stains? “Cheesy” appearances? Come on, I really like cheese. Why do they have to take that away?

Maybe it’s just human nature…when we aren’t eating food, we’re talking about it fifty percent of the time. Perhaps the people naming these human pathologies were just really hungry at the time. Optometrists and ophthalmologists aren’t the only ones, either. Eponymous naming has run rampant in medical and scientific literature for centuries, though many discoverers will simply name things after themselves and not the things people like to eat. In fact, descriptors like “cheesy” or “broken blueberry” appearance are borrowed by eye care professionals to describe ocular manifestations of processes that can arise elsewhere on or in the body. Still, the only time the term “broken blueberry” should be applied is in reference to pie. Am I grossing anyone out yet? Be sure to pass the salmon patches.

Perhaps many medical professionals naming these things just have a weird sense of humor. After all, they must realize their ingenious description of a disease process resembling a common food is sure to nauseate students and practitioners for generations to come. Maybe it’s part of preparing us for seeing these things in real life – gross us out now while we’re learning it so that when we see it for the first time it’s not so bad? I’m not so sure this would work, and anyone wholly averse to seeing pathology should probably look into another line of work. The rest of us… can we just focus on naming things based on the actual underlying process instead of destroying everyone’s appetite? Thanks, I appreciate it.

For now, we’ll just have to accept the current terminology in the hopes that it will desensitize us to any new food-related eponyms coming our way. I’m just glad no one has come up with “Eggs Benedict Orbitopathy,” “Fondu Fundus,” or “Grandma’s Homemade Cherry Cheesecake Conjunctivitis” yet.

Currently listening to: “The Hamburger Song” by Bobby Moore and The Rhythm Aces

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