LOS ANGELES — Thirty years ago, in 1992, Armenian-American ophthalmologist Dr. Roger Ohanesian took a trip to Armenia for the first time and subsequently founded the Armenian EyeCare Project (AECP), a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating preventable blindness in Armenia and making quality eye care accessible to every resident in the country.
Three decades later, Ohanesian is being honored for his decades of humanitarian service through the AECP by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS). On April 24, 2022, Dr. Ohanesian accepted the coveted ASCRS Foundation’s Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award during the ASCRS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
In his acceptance speech, Ohanesian expressed his awe at how much the AECP has accomplished in Armenia during the organization’s 30-year history and service to the country.
“You have no idea when you start something what it’s going to turn out to be,” he said. “It has truly, though, for me, been the honor of a lifetime.”
The AECP’s list of accomplishments in its 30 years of service to Armenia is vast. More than 100 volunteer physicians have visited during Medical Missions to Armenia to train local physicians and work on complicated cases; local ophthalmologists in Armenia have received advanced medical education and training both by participating in U.S. fellowships and being trained in-country; and numerous patient care programs and facilities have been developed in Armenia including the AECP’s Mobile Eye Hospital, Center of Excellence for the Prevention of Childhood Blindness, Regional Eye Centers and more.
“Very few of us will leave a mark on this world as important as that of Roger Ohanesian,” Dr. John Hovanesian, a fellow ophthalmologist and volunteer physician with AECP, said. “For 30 years Roger has dedicated his life to helping people rise above blindness half a world away. He’s been passionate, he’s been persistent, and he’s been extremely efficient in gathering resources and recruiting like-minded volunteers through his contagious enthusiasm and folksy charm.”