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Shields' Textbook of Glaucoma, 6th edition R Rand Allingham, Karim F Damji, Sharon F Freedman, Sayoko E Moroi and Douglas J Rhee Philadelphia : Walters Kluwer Lippincott Williams and Wilkins , 2011 610 pages, print and e-book, RRP $223.30 Reviewed by : DAVID COCKBURN , Sandringham, VIC, Australia

Over half a century ago, Duke-Elder swept up almost everything then known about eye disease and ophthalmology into his seven volume Textbook of Ophthalmology and later in his 15 volume System of Ophthalmology. This was an extraordinary technical achievement for one author and the language he used was equal to some of the world's best literature. Today's greatly expanded totality of ophthalmic knowledge has led to the need for texts devoted to speciality areas and multiple authors. In the digital era there is also a further need to provide the information in an online version. Shields' Textbook of Glaucoma was first published in 1982 as a conventional textbook with Bruce Shields as its sole author. This is the sixth edition. It continues the tradition of the earlier editions and meets the challenges of the modern era in a text that is authoritative, clinically relevant and, best of all, in a clearly expressed form. It caters for the spectrum of needs from those of students of optometry and ophthalmology through to those of the most narrow and specialised glaucoma specialists. In controversial areas, the assembly of information is balanced, well argued and extensively annotated. Bruce Shields, the retiring sole author of the previous five editions anoints his chosen successors in the foreword to this edition.

The layout of Shields' Textbook of Glaucoma provides an introduction detailing the basic aspects of glaucoma from the clinical techniques necessary for diagnosis and monitoring the disease to its cellular and molecular biology and genetics. The 19 chapters of section ii are devoted to the classification of the glaucomas, of which there are four main categories and no less than 38 subcategories. (The reader might accept a challenge to name even half of these from memory!) Section iii is a treasure trove of readily accessed information for optometrists involved in the co-management of patients having glaucoma. It provides a basic understanding of simple management procedures, through to surgery and the more esoteric aspects of neuroprotection. Each chapter concludes with a succinct ‘key points’ analysis that is most helpful as an aid to memory after reading but also allows making a decision before reading as to whether the chapter contains the information being sought.

The illustrations in Shields' Textbook of Glaucoma are outstanding. The relevant details of the colour plates are well identified by arrows or letters in contrast to many similar texts. This eliminates the difficulty students have in identifying subtle defects with which they are not yet familiar. Line drawings are used extensively to illustrate surgical procedures and to supplement photographs of, for example, the optic nerve head, where the important detail might otherwise be swamped by other features in a photographic image.

‘Oh joy, Oh rapture’ as the chorus sings in Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore. At last, an online version of a textbook that really works! After registering and entering a username and password the book appears on screen in approximately seven seconds. The section contents and chapters appear and a two or three second wait brings up a selected chapter. Alternatively, the search facility will find all locations of a search term. A search for the relatively common term tonometry brought 10 hits within a few seconds. There is a brief note of the context, in which the word is used that makes it easy to find the appropriate section and then it is just a click away. The online version allows varied print sizes, either one or two pages open on full screen, page turning by a mouse click, copying and printing. The online version of Shields' Textbook of Glaucoma is truly a joy to behold. I have reviewed several ophthalmic books in e-format and some are so chunky as to be unusable: this e-book is the benchmark for all others to aspire.

In summary, this combined hard copy and download version of Shields' Textbook of Glaucoma is a must for ophthalmic libraries and any clinician having, by either necessity or simple interest, a need to understand the enigma of glaucoma. That would be every optometrist, even though the book goes beyond ordinary needs of general optometric practice. Those involved in glaucoma co-management really should buy it.