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Alaska Blind Child Discovery

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

2023 ABCD Favorites


"What Should Pediatricians Use / Purchase for "State-of-the-Art" 2023 Vision Screening?"
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has added to its guidelines for pediatric vision screening a Position Paper recommending Photoscreening for early detection of conditions that lead to treatable blindness due to Amblyopia. The 2017 AAO Amblyopia preferred pratice pattern is very helpful.
The AAP and the AAPOS Vision Screen Committee do NOT recommend merely a single screening for pre-schoolers, rather it recommends a series of age-appropriate guidelines (AAP) combined with appropriate history and physical findings.
In addition to newborn red reflex testing and infant fixation / cover testing, Bruckner Testing is a useful tool for an experienced pediatrician. As Kirk in Alaska and Sean Donahue demonstrated with over 100,000 real community MTI photoscreenings, specific early toddler photoscreening might actually "prevent" amblyopia in many cases. Carefully interpreted photoscreening and remote autorefraction in toddlers can identify one of the most important, and occult amblyopiagenic factors: inability to sufficiently accommodate in one or both eyes, in various meridia. Pediatricians can now bill for objective photoscreening with CPT 99177 or 99174. In Alaska and Iowa statewide experience, objective screening works very well in community screening from age 1 to age 7 years and takes only 20-30 seconds per child.

Please inform yourself of critical issues regarding VALIDATION of Objective and Sensory Amblyopia VISION SCREENING. Your understanding, or lack thereof, can "make" or "break" a vision screening program. Review the table with Research-referenced Screening Instruments.
Objective testing includes remote autorefractors and Photoscreeners. Current models have internal or internet interpretation allowing prompt and valid results. Each photoscreener REQUIRES the selection of instrument referral criteria chosen to maximize sensitivity and specifity for your screening environment. ABCD has validated all the most recent commercially-available models and has the following impressions:

For instant, multi-axial, infrared refractive and strabismus estimates- Plusoptix user-friendly and has the most validation research experience with the best ability to select a SPECIFIC early instrument referral criteria., Adaptica 2WIN recent model has been calibrated by ABCD with autorefraction resembling Retinomax, a unique strabismus "CR" wand and Kaleidos luminance-control tube. Baxter SPOT- wide range of refractive estimates and some emerging validation but minimal ability to adjust instrument referral criteria. Each of these require the patient sit still and focus on the camera for 2-5 seconds. (CPT 99177)

For wiggly and inattentive children, the visible light iScreen has near-instantaneous sequential flash and therefore is best for special needs practices. iScreen requires internet download for computer + expert interpretation (CPT 99174). GoCheckKids has developed valid software tested in a variety of smart phones (iPhone 7+, iPhone8 with flash concentrator and iPhone SE) for cost-effective pediatric vision screening by pediatricians and family health providers using either 99177 or 99174.

The Rebion blinq uses novel technology to seek reflected birefringence coming from exactly aligned (foveating) eyes. They are working to correct battery and lens coating issues. It may be best at early determination of the most difficult types of amblyopia allowing very early treatment and better chances of success. ABCD has validated the blinq.

Which is better- photoscreening or acuity screening? BAD QUESTION says ABCD! Rather- which screening should be used at which age? We recommend AAP Guidelines modified with photoscreening age 1-2 years, again at 3-4 years and then Kindergarten entry and developmental delay. Surround, randomized acuity screening with monocularity assured by patching follows. Manifest strabismus should be urgently referred by observant parents teamed up with atuned pediatricians- ABCD only recommends stereo screening for strabismic amblyopia if it is quick and efficient. ABCD considers isolated, small-angle strabismic amblyopia so rare that most tests lack specificity to effectively target this entity- other than perhaps the Rebiscan.
Subjective testing of acuity can be done on a few children three years or younger, however the ability of Pediatrician technicians to do this test well is more age-dependent. Unless we better educate pediatricians and improve the skills of their technicians, objective testing will out-perform acuity testing in pre-K. There are some good points about characteristics of good acuity tests; it is amazing to find how poor quality charts some "good" pediatricians are using! Another critical point is assuring monocular testing. This can be assured by patching the non-tested eye in the majority of children who accept this method. Special broadly occluding spectacle frames work for finicky patch kids. Acuity testing can seek a threshold for each eye and refer pre-K unable to achieve 20/40 or two line difference; this takes about 3-7 minutes to screen a child. Another good method is to screen only a critical line of 20/40 for each eye; this takes 2-4 minutes per child. Pediatricians can, and should, charge for monocular acuity testing using 99173. The recent AAP recommendation to use 20/50 for preschool acuity screening lacks validation compared to using 20/40; ABCD finds 20/40 a valid screening criteria.
Acuity testing becomes faster, and more efficient in older children but still MUST assure monocularity. A Nintendo 3DS game called PDI Check can do a quick, fun job of screening monocular Landholt C acuity, stereo and color. Other binocular games have promise to provide automated vision screening, like EyeSwift, when they become commercially available.
Pediatricians might purchase a computer, wall-mounted, multi-optotype remotely-operated screening system like eye doctors have in our lanes for over $3000, or illuminated wall charts for $100-$500, or flip charts for $20-$50. There are child-friendly computer-game acuity tests that might appeal to many pediatricians. Consistent critical line charts can be obtained free online, so no American child should "go blind" for lack of a chart.
(Financial Disclosure: ABCD received discounted vision screening materials / technology from many of the manufacturers mentioned but receives no direct payment to ABCD workers)
Warmly Stomping Out Blindness,
Robert Arnold, MD
Alaska Children's EYE & Strabismus, Anchorage

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