The Armenian EyeCare Project has been traveling to Armenia on twice-yearly medical missions since 1992 — more than 50 missions to date. They are typically held in June/July and in September/October. If you would like to join an EyeCare Project Medical Mission, please contact us. Leading the Missions is AECP President and Founder Dr. Roger Ohanesian. He is typically joined by six to 12 ophthalmology subspecialists. We also welcome volunteer writers, photographers and filmmakers to chronicle the medical mission.
When the doctors arrive in Armenia their days and nights are already booked tight. Prior to arrival, the Project’s Yerevan office schedules meetings, events and visits to out-of-town schools, clinics and other organizations. The U.S. doctors are in great demand by patients, physicians and country officials and they do not have a free minute. While in Armenia, doctors work alongside the Armenian physicians and teach at all of the Project’s facilities, which include the Mobile Eye Hospital; six specialty clinics — Glaucoma, Retina, Corneal-Uveitis, Neuro-Orbital, Pediatrics and Low Vision Clinic; a state-of-the-art Education Center with a “Wet Lab” donated by Pfizer; and a Diagnostic Center. In addition, the doctors visit schools, nursing homes, soup kitchens and polyclinics — anywhere and everywhere they are needed.
“We all look forward to working with the U.S. doctors… It’s a very important time for us,” said AECP Cornea Fellow Anna Hovakimyan, who studied at the Proctor Foundation in San Francisco. “The hospital changes dramatically when they arrive and there is excitement everywhere.”
The EyeCare physicians who visit are just as excited, looking forward to the cases that the residents and fellows present to them and the opportunity for the peer-to-peer exchange on the most recent diagnostic and surgical techniques.
Very eager to see the U.S. doctors are the patients. Once word gets out that the AECP doctors are in town, Armenian residents come in large numbers to line up for appointments. People often wait for hours — sometimes days — hoping to be seen. Cases are identified and pre-registered for examinations by the AECP Fellows for the American doctors to see while in-country.
Very often on these missions, U.S. ophthalmologists bring over exciting new techniques to teach the Armenian physicians, giving them the opportunity to work with and learn from the best. In 2005, Dr. Anthony Aldave, Director of the UCLA Cornea & External Disease Fellowship Program, joined an AECP Medical Mission and performed the first artificial cornea implant surgery in Armenia.