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Alaska Blind Child Discovery

A cooperative, charitable research project to vision screen every preschool Alaskan

ABCD Inception

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Visionaries 1 2 3 4
ABCD History
Kids Eye Disorders
During High School, Robert Arnold was introduced to ophthalmology by his internist father's (John Arnold) ophthalmology colleagues John Hodge and Don Anderson in Bellingham, Washington. During his first year of college at University of Washington, Arnold wrote a lengthy honors paper on intraocular lenses for cataract rehabilitation... and he got a "B." In the subsequent three college years at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Arnold emphasized chemistry and physiology. After medical school at Yale, Arnold developed a keen interest in pediatric ophthalmology from Drs. John Dyer and George "Bud" Hohberger at Mayo Clinic. During the pediatric fellowship at Indiana University with mentor doctors Gene Helveston, Daryel Ellis and David Plager, Arnold became intrigued with detecting small angle strabismus with the Brückner Test. After starting practice in Anchorage with Ophthalmic Associates in Fall 1989, Arnold started modifying the Bruckner Test to include more refractive error detection and pupil relfex testing resulting in an Alaska medicine article. In 1995, spurred on by colleague Howard Freedman, Arnold bought the first two MTI photoscreners and presented them to pediatricians, public health nurses and eye doctors. Only the public health nurses, and later the charities (Shriners, Lions, Kiwanas) purchased more up to a total of 18. ABCD launched the Gold phase in 1998. Arnold and his optometrist colleage, Lynn Coon refined referral criteria, and remained baffled that insurances still did not reimburse primary care to utilize this technology. ABCD screening clinics include urban communities of Anchorage, MatSu and Fairbanks and many remote villages including the Koyukon Region. As MTI became obsolete, German photoscreener developer Christian Schmidt offered many discounted PlusoptiX to Alaska screeners. ABCD has helped calibrate and validate many of the available objective instrument-based vision screening technology. With iScreen's founder (Jack Bellows) investment to get photoscreening CPT code(s), a few remaining companies remained financially viable- and reimbursed pediatric photoscreening became a reality. Charitable community specific photoscreening got quick, fun and valid, so it was used in older and older children. ABCD discovered that an iPhone could work as a photoscreener leading to the launch by OCT- discoverer David Huang- of GoCheckKids. Wide adoption of photoscreening inadvertently produced the reluctance for pediatric screeners to persist with critical, older-age, sensitive patched, monocular acuity screening. Therefore, ABCD worked to improve and encourage consistent acuity screening after Kindergarten while championing objective screening from age 12 months through age 72 months. ABCD has published extensively on these efforts. The real goal is NOT just to screen well, but also to treat thoroughly, so ABCD champions efforts to Eliminate Amblyopia in Alaska.
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