Dr. Ruzanna Harutyunyan says, adding that “correcting vision problems and treating eye diseases is important at any age, but for children it can be especially important.”
A pediatric ophthalmologist and Chief of the Malayan Ophthalmological Center’s Pediatric Clinic, Dr. Harutyunyan examines about 30 children a day and performs around eight surgeries per week.
Much different than adult exams, a child’s eye exam focuses more on specific aspects of the eyes. Beginning in the preschool years, a number of conditions can be detected early including refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism; misalignment of the eyes or eye muscle disorders like Strabismus (“crossed eyes”) and Amblyopia (“lazy eyes”); and blocked tear ducts.
At the same time she diagnoses and treats these children, Dr. Harutyunyan also mentors other doctors on the art and science of pediatric ophthalmology. She considers teaching a very important part of her job, saying, “I enjoy teaching them as much as I can and seeing the results.”
Pediatric Ophthalmology is a sub-specialty of ophthalmology that requires physicians with a great respect and care for their patients and a personality that enables children to feel comfortable with them. Dr. Harutyunyan is one of these unique physicians.
When asked about her small patients, Harutyunyan says “Every one of them is my favorite!”
“To be able to treat their conditions and make their world a brighter place is very special,” she adds.
Born in 1961 to mother, Alica, and father, Gevork, Ruzanna grew up in Yerevan and followed in the scientific footsteps of her father, a chemist, though she is the first medical doctor in her family. Ruzanna’s mother became very ill when Ruzanna was just 15 years old and it was this personal experience that made her want to become a doctor and learn how to make people well. It wasn’t until years later, though, during her fifth year at the University, when Harutyunyan chose ophthalmology as her specialty. “I like beautiful eyes,” she says, explaining her choice. “The eye is a very special organ.”
Following her medical training, Harutyunyan married husband, Karen, in 1987 and the two have one son together, David. Like all working mothers, Harutyunyan’s biggest challenge, she says, is “not having enough time.” When asked what she likes to do in her free time, Ruzanna says, “I don’t have any! I try to balance work and motherhood by spending the weekends with my son.”
In summing up her family, her work and her life in Armenia, Harutyunyan reflects, “Armenia is my birthplace and I like living here. Thanks to wide communication with the outside world, life in Armenia has changed for the better. I think difficulties don’t come from where you live but with whom you live. Since I love my family, I am happy as long as I’m with them.”
As for the best part of her job, Dr. Harutyunyan says “children’s smiles,” with a very wide smile of her own.