Cornea. Color Atlas & Synopsis of Clinical Ophthalmology. Wills Eye Institute. Second Edition by Christopher J Rapuano Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012 Paperback, 367 pages, RRP $100.00


  • Nathan Efron

    1. Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, School of Optometry and Vision Science, Queensland University of Technology, Queensland, Australia
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This book is one in a series of seven atlases covering the ophthalmic sub-specialties: cornea, retina, glaucoma, oculoplastics, neuro-ophthalmology, uveitis and paediatrics. The author of Cornea and editor of the series is Christopher Rapuano, Attending Surgeon and Director of the Cornea Service at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. In the introduction to the book, Rapuano states ‘The goal of this series is to provide an up-to-date clinical overview of the major areas of ophthalmology for students, residents and practitioners in all the healthcare professions’.

The layout of the book is straight forward, comprising 11 chapters, each of which constitutes a major theme in anterior eye management. Three of the chapters, ‘Conjunctival infections and inflammations’ (Chapter 1), ‘Conjunctival degenerations and mass lesions’ (Chapter 2) and ‘Anterior sclera and iris’ (Chapter 9), belie the title of the book, which perhaps ought to have been something like ‘Anterior Eye’.

Each condition is generally constrained to about one page of text and one page of colour pictures. The text describing each condition is very brief, even cryptic, and is presented in bullet point format. The following headings are used to subdivide the text relating to each condition: aetiology, symptoms, signs, differential diagnosis, treatment and prognosis. This systematic approach is reminiscent of a similar book by Bruce and Loughnan entitled Anterior Eye Disease and Therapeutics A-Z. Second Edition, that I recently reviewed.[1] The main distinguishing feature between these titles is that in Bruce and Loughnan's book, conditions are considered in alphabetical order, whereas in Rapuano's Cornea, conditions are considered thematically. As far as I can see, both approaches work well.

The book is beautifully illustrated with between one and 10 exceptionally high-quality slitlamp images per condition. Almost all images are set to full page width, which generally provides sufficient magnification for details of interest to be clearly observed.

Having a keen interest in contact lens complications (I have published a book on this topic), I eagerly read the section ‘Contact lens complications’. This six-page section appears in Chapter 7 ‘Corneal infections, inflammation and surface disorders’. Three of the seven topics covered in this section—‘tight lens syndrome’, ‘corneal warpage’ and ‘superior limbic keratoconjunctivitis’—seem a little disconnected from modern contact lens practice, as these conditions are rarely observed today. Unfortunately, the out-dated term ‘giant papillary conjunctivitis’ is also used. The adjective ‘giant’, originally coined by Allansmith and colleagues[2] in the 1970s, ceased being used about 20 years ago because papillae rarely manifest as being ‘giant’.

A wonderful feature of this title is online access to the entire book in electronic format and a well-organised image bank. A small ‘scratch panel’ is included inside the front cover of the book, which is scratched off to reveal an access code. After entering the code and completing a simple registration procedure, full access is provided to an online version of the book, which allows topics to be searched electronically. Any illustration from the book can be downloaded from the image bank in PDF or JPG format (about 500 KB file size), for use in printed documents or lecture presentation purposes (with acknowledgement, of course).

I think this book does a splendid job in succinctly describing and illustrating a wide range of anterior eye diseases. To coin an often-used phrase, this book will serve as a useful ‘chair-side reference’ for the busy practitioner. It can also serve as a valuable study guide for students of the ophthalmic disciplines but, as is often the case with titles of this genre, readers will need to go elsewhere for a more detailed account of the conditions that are described.