Arshaluis Nerkarayan was just one month old when his parents, Gayaneh Matevosyan and Arthur Nerkararyan, were told that he had a congenital cataract in both eyes and could not see. Gayaneh and Arthur immediately decided that they would do everything in their power to help their son lead a normal life.
Born into a family of physicians, Mkrtchyan describes herself as a hereditary doctor. Her father, Gevorg, is an abdominal surgeon, mother, Ivetta, is an ophthalmologist, and older sister, Nune, is a pediatrician.
“I grew up in an atmosphere of concern for patients, discussing treatment and medical issues [with my family],” she says. “My decision to become a doctor, I think, was a logical and emotional outcome of these circumstances.”
As the population begins to age and life expectancy increases, it is imperative that Armenia address cataract surgical coverage. Today, approximately 91,000 Armenians — or 30 percent of the population — aged 65 and over have cataracts in one or both eyes, causing partial or complete blindness. By 2050, that number will more than double – leading to roughly 221,200 Armenians affected. Because cataract surgery is so limited in Armenia – just 24 percent coverage – most people (the remaining 76 percent) go without care, leaving thousands visually disabled. In the United States people accept cataract surgery as a part of aging and is a very common procedure. Sadly, in Armenia, many people accept blindness as a part of growing older because they have no access to cataract surgery.