Doctor Performs Corneal Transplants in Armenia
The early 90s was a tough time in Armenia. Still reeling from the earthquake in 1988, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and a war with Azerbaijan lasting through 1994, Armenians struggled to find their footing in virtually every arena. Eye care was no exception, as a wave of blindness hit the country.
Fortunately, the Armenian EyeCare Project was founded in 1992. With an emphasis in self-sustainability, our organization learned early on that, in order for our mission to work, our doctors would need to train Armenian ophthalmologists to treat their countrymen.
To expand capacity, the Project embarked on a fellowship program — sending Armenia’s most talented ophthalmologists to the finest institutions in America.
Dr. Anna Hovakimyan was one of the first Armenian physicians to receive a one-year fellowship. In 1999, she traveled to San Francisco to train at the UCSF Proctor Eye Foundation.
After immersing herself in her subspecialty of corneal disease, Dr. Hovakimyan returned to Armenia and established the first Corneal-Uveitis eye clinic in Armenia, at the Malayan Ophthalmological Center in Yerevan.
“I was very motivated to come back and to teach and change everything,” Dr. Hovakimyan says.
Today, the Chief of the Corneal-Uveitis Clinic performs about 1,000 eye surgeries a year — including corneal transplants, with 100 patients on the waiting list. Dr. Hovakimyan also trains more than 50 residents and doctors in her clinic, creating a domino effect of providing Armenians with the highest quality of eye care available.
Thanks in part to Dr. Hovakimyan’s determination to make a difference in her homeland, Armenia’s eye care industry has improved tremendously. With all the knowledge and capabilities to provide patients with maximum care, Dr. Hovakimyan works hard to drastically improve the lives of her patients — one treatment, and one corneal transplant, at a time.
It costs just $800 for a patient in Armenia to receive a corneal transplant. And, despite all the great progress being made in the country, many Armenians still struggle with the cost of these advanced care services.
If you want to join Dr. Hovakimyan and the Armenian EyeCare Project in the movement to make a difference and reduce the 100-person waiting list, please consider sponsoring a corneal surgery for an Armenian in need.