Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Bullseye: Targeting the Greatest Challenge to the Vision of Our Adult Library Readers Today, Age-Related Macular Degeneration, with Helpful Information

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Bullseye: Targeting the Greatest Challenge to the Vision of Our Adult Library Readers Today, Age-Related Macular Degeneration, with Helpful Information

Article excerpt

The intent of this column is to assist librarians helping a growing percentage of aging library users who have been diagnosed with macular degeneration. More than one million adults suffer from this eye disorder, and it is the leading cause of new blindness cases in the United States. The guest columnists provide background information on this condition and direct librarians to readily accessible and readable materials on the topic. Additionally, they have included some more technical articles for librarians needing more research-oriented literature on the disease. In order to expedite Interlibrary Loan requests for these items, they have included the PMID (the unique identifier assigned to records in the PubMed database) as part of these citations.

Tony Stankus is one of the country's best-known and most widely published science librarians. He has contributed to the literature on serials publishing, publishing trends in the sciences, liaison work with faculty, and other collection development topics. Tony is the 2005 recipient of the Special Libraries Association's Rose L. Vormelker Award. This prestigious award recognizes Tony's exceptional and sustained record of professional practice, scholarship, and service to the profession of special librarianship in the area of mentoring. Tony has trained and mentored the newest generation of science librarians in his role as an adjunct professor at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. Jennifer Lanouette, who was one of Tony's students, earned a baccalaureate degree in anthropology from Smith College and a master's degree in library and information studies from the University of Rhode Island.

One Librarian's Worry Turns into an Opportunity for Colleagues to Help More than One Million Readers Now at Risk

Shortly before Thanksgiving 2003, during the course of a routine eye exam, the senior of the two authors of this column found himself diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Like many Americans, he was somewhat surprised because his vision appeared to be reasonably good at the time, save for the need for bifocals that is common for someone his age. He learned from his eye doctor that developing macular degeneration ultimately means that over the course of several years, he would increasingly be less able to clearly see the center of images, or sometimes not be able to see them at all. Objects would increasingly appear as if they had a fuzzy but opaque bullseye in their centers. These bullseyes of decreased visual acuity (technically termed "scotomas') would typically grow larger and larger as the disease progressed, obscuring more and more of the image. Legal blindness was a distinct possibility. He learned that there is no cure for macular degeneration, but that there are differing degrees of severity and speeds of progression, some of which may possibly be slowed--but not reversed--by currently approved medical treatments and responsibly recommended lifestyle changes.

Despite some earnest attempts at reassurance from the attending eye doctor, the patient was nonetheless frankly terrified. Unexpected, progressive, serious eye conditions strike fear in just about anyone, particularly so for people engaged in a visually demanding line of work--like being a librarian. The doctor had no lay-level literature on hand at the time, and the author's poorly informed Internet search over the holiday weekend left him with many questions and much fear. It did not help that on that very night, while watching television as a distraction from his health concerns, the drama E. R. featured guest star Bob Newhart playing a mild-mannered man of fifty or so who was diagnosed with AMD. This seemed unusually serendipitous, and the senior author was hoping for an upbeat story dealing with his newly diagnosed disease. Like many AMD patients, however, Bob Newhart's character lost his job, became increasingly depressed with his accumulating disabilities to maintain even his hobbies and romantic relationships, and subsequently blew his brains out in despair. …

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