Family Travels to Armenia to Receive Surgery for Baby

Since 2010 the Armenian EyeCare Project has been implementing a sight-saving program for children in Armenia who are born premature. These newborns need specialized eye care services as they are exposed to the risk of blindness due to retinopathy of prematurity (ROP.) This eye disease causes abnormal blood vessels to grow in the back of the eye (retina), and can lead to blindness if left untreated.

In collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and the government of Armenia, the Armenian EyeCare Project established a Center of Excellence for the Prevention of Childhood Blindness in Yerevan in 2012. At this center, high-quality eye care services are provided to children who have sight-threatening eye diseases. Both children in Armenia and those from neighboring countries benefit from this exceptional center.

One of these beneficiaries is one-year-old Yeva from the country of Georgia who recently received treatment at our Center of Excellence. “Yeva” means life in Russian. This name perfectly suits a small girl with such a strong spirit.

Since her birth, Yeva has undergone five surgeries and spent the first 11 months of her life in the hospital. Among other health problems, Yeva has familial exudative vitreoretinopathy (FEVR). This eye condition is a hereditary disorder that affects the retina and can cause progressive vision loss without treatment.

“This much-needed procedure is not carried out in Georgia and our ophthalmologist suggested choosing one of three countries for the prescribed intervention,” explained one of Yeva’s family members. “We chose Armenia and it was the best choice we have made!”

Upon arriving in Armenia, Yeva was seen by Dr. Tadevos Hovhannisyan, who is responsible for performing vitreoretinal surgeries and laser treatment for children admitted to the Center of Excellence. Dr. Hovhannisyan has been performing complicated retinal surgeries as part of the AECP’s ROP program for more than 10 years and has a series of impressive achievements in this field.

Yeva’s laser treatment lasted five hours, but the result was life-changing: Yeva will see! Yeva’s family was so grateful that they wrote a thank you letter to the AECP. “Nothing could express fully our gratitude to this program and our surgeon Dr. Tadevos Hovhannisyan for saving the eyesight of our child,” they said.

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