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When it comes to describing the clinical features of ocular tumours, Jerry and Carol Shields are in a class of their own. So when I came across their three new atlases at the trade exhibition of the International Congress of Ocular Oncology held recently in their home town, Philadelphia, I bought all three volumes there and then.
I certainly have not been disappointed. The Atlas of Intraocular Tumours alone contains almost 1500 illustrations, all of superb quality. The other atlases on conjunctival and orbital tumours are similar. The material includes illustrations of both “common” and rare tumours, usually with several photographs of each tumour showing variations in clinical presentation. Diagnostic approaches and treatments are also covered in a pictorial manner. There are six illustrations per page, with a succinct legend beneath each figure. The illustrations are mostly displayed on the right hand page, with an introductory text and relevant references on the left hand page or at the top of the page (very “user friendly”).
Few ophthalmologists have the opportunity to see many ocular tumours and to develop their diagnostic skills. When giving “interactive” presentations on tumour diagnosis, I have on several occasions noticed that members of an audience would fail to recognise a photograph of a “textbook” case, until I mention just one key sign, whereupon several delegates would suddenly call out the correct answer. This would suggest that texts have been memorised assiduously, but without learning what the clinical signs actually look like. The “Shieldses atlas” goes a long way towards solving this problem.
I expect that many ophthalmologists would enjoy browsing through these beautiful atlases not only to educate themselves for examinations or otherwise but also because the conditions themselves are so spectacular. I am sure it would also be comforting for them to know that these atlases were available in their departmental library, waiting to be consulted the next time a patient with a “difficult” tumour came along.