“When they removed my eye patch after surgery, it felt like I had just been born into this world.”
The first meal of choice in any Armenian celebration, Abgar says, is “khorovats” – or barbequed Armenian meat.
“My favorite part is the moment after you light the fire…” he says with a twinkle in his eyes. “Once the fire settles, everything after that moment is pure joy for me.”
Abgar has always been passionate about food. He attended culinary school shortly after graduating grade school and worked as a chef in Armenia for many years.
But despite his love of cooking, Abgar has had the remarkable challenge of preparing food for a living while also having problems with his vision – an issue that began when Abgar was just five years old.
At a young age, Abgar had developed astigmatism and later, glaucoma. At the age of 18, Abgar was prescribed eyeglasses and over time the prescription strength would rise as his vision grew worse.
When any new eye clinic in Armenia opened up, Abgar would go in to be treated but he would never see any results. After nearly 50 years of his worsening sight, Abgar also developed cataracts. Even the heavy prescription glasses he wore were not enough to help.
“I would leave the house but couldn’t see the people in front of me,” Abgar said. “Most of the time I would not leave home by myself.”
Because of his deteriorating vision, Abgar was no longer able to work.
“I was living in complete despair,” he remembers. “There was nothing left to be hopeful about or have faith in.”
Then, one day, Abgar had the opportunity to visit our Mobile Eye Hospital. But because of his decades of bad experience, he was not hopeful that we could help. After all, he had spent nearly 50 years chasing a cure for his vision with no luck. Still, he agreed to be seen by our physicians and made an appointment at our Mobile Eye Hospital.
Abgar’s surgeries were very complicated and took over three hours to perform. But ultimately, his procedures were a success.
“When they removed my eye patch after the surgery, it felt like I had just been born into this world,” Abgar said. “I could see the light. It was a miracle.”
Now Abgar can once again see the faces of his children and grandchildren. He’s able to barbeque again just like he used to. And best of all, he’s able to share these experiences and all the delicious food he prepares with his family.
“They love my cooking,” Abgar says of his grandchildren with a big smile. “They say ‘It tastes so good! Will you tell us the recipe?”
Though it took years for Abgar to receive the eye care he so desperately needed, he is grateful of all the new opportunities this newly restored vision now provides him.
“It gave me freedom and created a new future for me,” Abgar says. He also realizes that none of this would be possible without the supporters of the Armenian EyeCare Project.
“Without these benefactors I would not have my eyesight,” Abgar says. “My deepest gratitude to them.”
Perhaps one day we can celebrate Abgar’s restored vision together with a plate of his delicious khorovats.