Walsh & Hoyt's Clinical Neuro-Ophthalmology, 6th Edition
Neil R. Miller, MD, Nancy J. Newman, MD, Valerie Biousse, MD and John B. Kerrison, MD, Editors. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, 2005. ISBN: 0-7817-4814-3, $699
Scope: This is the sixth edition of the encyclopedia of neuro-ophthalmology. It has no peer.
First appearing in 1947 as a compendium of case files from the meticulous observations of Dr. Frank B. Walsh, its subsequent editions have kept pace with increasingly scientific and rigorous nature of medical journal publications. Joining Walsh as co-author for the third edition in 1969 was Dr. William F. Hoyt, who fortified the pathophysiologic basis of Dr. Walsh's findings and extended the text from one to three volumes. Dr. Neil R. Miller, a Hoyt trainee, took over as principal author for the fourth edition, rewriting and updating until a 4-volume text emerged, one volume at a time, from 1982 to 1996. Realizing that a single author could no longer manage so much material, Dr. Miller turned to Dr. Nancy J. Newman as a co-editor for the 5th edition. They recruited 60 brand name authors to write 73 chapters. The product was a 5,746-page, five-volume, 33-lb King Kong edition that appeared in 1998 at a purchase price of $750.
The sixth edition, weighing in at 24 lbs in three volumes and a mere 3,572 pages, is an attempt to produce a more manageable, slightly less expensive ($699), yet still comprehensive reference text. Drs. Valerie Biousse and John B. Kerrison have joined as co-editors. There are now 73 authors for 62 chapters. Several of the old chapters have been merged and retitled, but, as best this reviewer can tell from a spotty read, nothing important has been lost. In fact, less may be more, as the fifth edition suffered from information overkill. Volume 1 has the anatomy, physiology, and principles of localization as applied to the visual sensory, ocular motor, trigeminal, and facial (including eyelid) muscular systems, as well as a chapter on the approach to non-organic neuro-ophthalmic conditions. Volume 2 covers tumors, phacomatoses, and vascular disease, and Volume 3 covers degenerative and metabolic diseases, and infectious, inflammatory, and demyelinating diseases. Each volume has an index that covers the entire 3-volume set. The fifth edition had indices in each volume that covered only the material in that volume. Gone is the separate softcover comprehensive index of the fifth edition. This reader will not miss it; it often got lost.
Strengths: The chapters are mostly little masterpieces-well-written, erudite, comprehensive, well-organized, and well-illustrated. The editors have hit on a very sensible way to organize this material. The authors have followed their editors' instructions to plumb the literature-even the non-English literature-for every decent reference. Publication quality is topnotch-attractive, very legible type, well-reproduced illustrations, and assiduous attention to matching text citations with reference lists. I could find no mistakes.
Weaknesses: There really aren't any. This is still an expensive series, but like the Encyclopedia Britannica or The New York Times, where else will you get the whole story?
Recommended Audience: Every university library will have to own it. It probably should be on the shelf of libraries of basic and clinical neuroscience departments and schools of optometry. Practitioners of neurology, neurosurgery, and neuro-ophthalmology who do not have ready access to such libraries will also want one.
Critical Appraisal: Like its earlier editions, a classic in the field. There is simply no other source for comprehensive information in neuro-ophthalmology. Many of the chapters are better than comparable ones in leading textbooks of neurology and neurosurgery.
Jonathan D. Trobe, MD
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan