CONTACT: BECKY SOGLIN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 335-8034
Release: June 12, 2000
Former UI ophthalmic illustrator's book depicts experience with macular
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which causes
a blank spot in the center of one's vision, is the leading cause of blindness
in people over age 50 in the western world. Lee Allen, a former ophthalmic
illustrator and an associate in the University of Iowa department of ophthalmology
for more than 60 years, has put his drawing skills and first-hand experience
with AMD to use to help people better understand the disease.
The result is his illustrated book, "The Hole in My Vision: An Artist's
View of His Own Macular Degeneration," commissioned by the UI department
of ophthalmology and visual sciences and the UI Center for Macular Degeneration
to celebrate the department's 75th anniversary. The book was published in
May by Penfield Press and is designed to aid patients, their families, ophthalmologists
and other eye care professionals.
Book proceeds will provide support to the UI Center for Macular Degeneration,
which is dedicated to identifying a cure for age-related macular degeneration
by altering its onset and reducing the risk of blindness. The disease results
in atrophy, or degeneration, of the macula, where the best central vision
is located. In 10 percent of people, new blood vessels may grow in the macula,
leading to rapid central vision loss.
Early in his career, Allen worked with Grant Wood on several projects, including
large murals in public buildings in Iowa. In 1937, he became an ophthalmic
illustrator for the UI, where he pioneered many artistic and photographic
At age 78, Allen realized he could see the AMD-caused defects in his vision.
For a decade, he studied these defects and carefully drew pictures of what
he saw, showing the way they changed with time and with laser surgery.
The book includes these drawings as well as information about age-related
macular degeneration and comments from Allen's physician and colleagues, including
H. Stanley Thompson, M.D., UI emeritus professor of ophthalmology, and James
C. Folk, M.D., UI professor of ophthalmology. Thomas A.Weingeist, Ph.D., M.D.,
UI professor and head of ophthalmology and visual sciences, and executive
director of the Center for Macular Degeneration, wrote the book preface.
Weingeist commented in the preface, "What makes this effort truly unique
is that Lee brought to the task a lifetime of related skills -- skills in
drawing, color analysis, teaching, anatomical knowledge -- all supported by
a driving need to understand what he was seeing."
The 120-page book includes many full-color pictures, and the type size meets
publication specifications set by the Iowa Commission for the Blind. Individuals
with reduced vision should be able to easily read the book.
For more information about "The Hole in My Vision," visit the
UI web page: http://webeye.ophth.uiowa.edu/dept/75_years/LeeAllen/index.htm
The book ($49.94 paperback, $100 limited edition hardback) will be available
in selected outlets, or to order copies, contact Penfield Press in Iowa City
at (319) 337-9998, toll free at (800) 728-9998 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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