Three children – Mary, Robert and Anna (the names have been changed to maintain confidentiality) – have had their eyesight saved thanks to the diagnostics and treatment provided at the AECP’s Center of Excellence for the Prevention of Childhood Blindness located in Yerevan. Usually, children treated at the Center of Excellence are newborns, but this time they were older. All three children underwent the fluorescein angiography with a retinal camera. This is a unique method to identify pediatric retinal disorders, which can hardly be detected by any other ophthalmic devices.
As a result of the detailed eye examination, two children – 12-year-old Robert and one-year-old Anna – were diagnosed with Coats disease. “I couldn’t even imagine that my boy had this kind of serious eye problem,” said Robert’s mother. Coats disease is a rare congenital eye disorder characterized by the abnormal development of blood vessels behind the retina. If not for timely treatment the disease can lead to partial or complete blindness. Robert and Anna underwent laser treatment, which was aimed at protecting the children’s vision from further deterioration.
“The fact that the AECP’s Center of Excellence exists in Armenia allows children with Coats disease and other pediatric eye diseases to receive adequate treatment thanks to innovative approaches,” said AECP Fellow and retinal surgeon at the Center of Excellence, Dr. Tadevos Hovhannisyan. Since the development of the Center of Excellence, 13 children in Armenia with Coats disease have received sight-saving treatment and at no cost.
The third child, who underwent angiography and received treatment, was 12-year-old Mary. She was diagnosed with retinal detachment due to non-identified retinopathy of prematurity (ROP.) ROP is an eye disease that leads to blindness and primarily affects premature infants.
“Mary was born in 2008, when we didn’t have any devices to detect this disorder and to provide the needed medical care,” Dr. Hovhannisyan said. In 2010 the AECP developed its ROP Program in Armenia and in the last decade, 8,160 premature children have undergone screening to detect signs of ROP. Of all the children screened, 217 have received laser treatment, 142 newborns have received anti-VEGF treatment and 72 newborns have undergone vitreoretinal and other related surgeries.
The AECP’s Center of Excellence is proof that detecting and treating pediatric eye disease at an early age is incredibly critical, allowing children to avoid serious vision problems and life-long blindness.