Armenian EyeCare Project Kicks Off 25th Anniversary


boardmembersGLENDALE — Festivities for the celebration of the Armenian EyeCare Project’s (AECP) 25th Anniversary — 1992 – 2017 — have begun. In the last few weeks, the Project has hosted two dinners for its friends and supporters — one at the home of Founder and President Dr. Roger Ohanesian and wife Eileen in Laguna Beach and another at the home of newly appointed board member Dr. Khodam Rostomian and wife Dr. Carmen Ohanian in Glendale.

Guests at each of the dinner parties enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while socializing under the gorgeous southern California sunset before sitting down for an alfresco dinner. Between the main course and dessert, Ohanesian talked to guests about how the Armenian EyeCare Project was founded and the organization’s long list of accomplishments throughout its 25-year history.

Through captivating photographs and fascinating anecdotes, the Laguna Beach ophthalmologist explained how dire the healthcare industry in Armenia was in the early 1990s, when he visited the country for the first time in 1992. He became aware of the growing wave of blindness plaguing Armenia during his visit. Believing he could help, Ohanesian subsequently founded the Armenian EyeCare Project.

Throughout the past 25 years the Project has restored the sight of nearly 20,000 people in Armenia and examined and treated hundreds of thousands more. Other accomplishments include the delivery of a state-of-the-art Mobile Eye Hospital to Armenia, which brought eye care to those living in the country’s many towns and villages; reducing infant blindness in Armenia by 90 percent, saving hundreds of Armenian babies from blindness through its cutting-edge ROP Program and Center of Excellence for the Prevention of Childhood Blindness; sponsoring fellowships for eight Armenian ophthalmologists at the finest medical institutions in America with each fellow returning to Armenia to train colleagues and direct clinics in their subspecialty; distributing more than 70,000 prescription eyeglasses to Armenians in need at no charge; and much more.

Building on its many achievements the EyeCare Project is committed to expanding its work in Armenia to accomplish its mission — providing access to eye care to all Armenians regardless of economic status and eliminating preventable blindness. Collaborating with its partners — USAID, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the World Diabetes Association and the Armenian government — the project is implementing a number of new programs and embarking on its most ambitious project yet to develop five Regional Eye Clinics throughout Armenia in five years for $5 million.

Ohanesian said, “We now have the capacity to complete these Regional Eye Clinics and offer the same quality care to those living in the remote villages and regions of Armenia as people who live in Yerevan.”

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At the Glendale event, the night ended with a film telling the story of Lillia, a 1-year-old Armenian girl saved from blindness after a complicated surgery, which was performed at no cost at the AECP’s Center of Excellence for the Prevention of Childhood Blindness.

Because of dedicated doctors in Armenia and generous donors from the diaspora, Lillia was saved from a lifetime of blindness. Describing the magnitude of this event Ohanesian said, “If something as unimportant as money can save the sight of a baby girl and so many other Armenian children, then to me, it’s an incredibly worthwhile endeavor.”

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