Diagnosis of Defective Colour Vision, 2nd Ed. Jennifer Birch. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2001. Pages: 160. Price: $55.00. ISBN 0-7506-4174-6.
Diagnosis of Defective Colour Vision is intended to be a practical guide for testing and managing patients with color vision defects. The book contains 11 chapters that cover five major areas. The first three chapters provide a basic understanding of normal color perception, so that the reader can gain a reasonable appreciation of the differences between color-normal and color-defective individuals. The next section of the book covers basic definitions and characteristics of congenital color vision defects, including the genetics. The third section is the heart of the book. In these chapters, Professor Birch describes specific color vision tests and their design and clinical use for both children and adults. She also overviews several cases and provides templates for reports to teachers, parents, and other health care providers. The fourth section is a slight detour from congenital color vision defects. This section overviews the more common acquired color vision deficiencies and their appropriate testing strategies. The final section of the book returns to the subject of congenital color vision deficiencies, with discussions on occupational concerns and color vision defects and the use of colored filters as an aid to improve color discrimination.
The content of this book lives up to its title. This is a text that is primarily devoted to testing and management issues. The chapters on basic color science and characteristics of defective color vision defects are not intended to be an in-depth discussion, but they do provide an adequate foundation for clinicians and students. The section on the genetics of color vision deficiencies is updated from the book’s first edition, reflecting the extensive work that has taken place in molecular genetics over the past decade. Again, the text provides an adequate overview of the current genetic theories. The remaining sections on testing and management offer a more extensive review of these topics, reflecting Professor Birch’s extensive experience in the area. As much as possible, she has tried to confine her review to tests that are available worldwide. This section of the book has also been updated to include more recent studies and newer tests. The one topic that is missing from it, however, is a discussion of the genetic tests for color vision defects that are being developed. Although the reader might be slightly disappointed that the cases presented at the end of Chapter 7 were not discussed in more detail, the outline of the findings and reports do provide useful models for test strategies and counseling. The chapter on acquired color vision defects is an efficient resource for clinicians because it discusses only the more common defects encountered in practice. The last two chapters on filter aids for color vision defects and occupational standards issues contain major revisions, due to the recent resurgence of color filters as an aid and the antidiscrimination challenges raised by individuals with color vision defects. Although Professor Birch describes color vision standards from throughout the world, her emphasis is on standards found in the United Kingdom. These chapters are important reminders to the reader that management of color vision defects is more than just informing the person that they have a problem.
There a few editorial errors that distract from the book’s overall quality. One of the more obvious examples was Professor Birch’s statement that rods have the greatest density 5° from the fovea. Another error was her suggestion that I have evaluated color-filter aids in my work using the Hardy-Rand-Ritter plates when the tests actually involved the Standard Pseudoisochromatic Plates, Parts 1 and 2.
There is a substantial amount of new information in this second edition of Diagnosis of Defective Colour Vision; therefore, if you have the first edition and still refer to it, you should consider updating your library. If do not have the first edition and you are thinking about purchasing the second edition, it is important to remember that this book is a practical clinical guide for managing the color-defective patient. As such, it has little value to the researcher who is interested in normal and abnormal color perception. Regardless, this would be a very useful book for optometry students and for clinicians who wish to have a current overview of the area and practical reference in their library.FIGURE