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AUA and UCLA Host Webinar on Emerging Diseases and Existing Tools

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YEREVAN, Armenia — During October and November 2022, the Garo Meghrigian Institute for Preventive Ophthalmology (Meghrigian Institute) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) Turpanjian College of Health Sciences, with assistance from the Republic of Armenia Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, implemented an eye-screening program for socially vulnerable children. The initiative aims to decrease visual impairment in the target population through the provision of comprehensive ophthalmic examination and consultation, and distribution of eyeglasses and medication to those in need.  

This year, the staff of the Meghrigian Institute implemented the program at the Ajapnyak Children’s Social Care Center in Yerevan, Children’s Support Center of the Fund for Armenian Relief in Yerevan, and Child and Family Support Centers in Shirak and Lori provinces, all of which serve socially vulnerable children. Overall, 362 of 410 children from the target population were screened, along with 27 adults who had limited access to ophthalmic services.

In December 2022, the Meghrigian Institute distributed eyeglasses and medication to the children in need. Fifty-seven children who were diagnosed with refractive errors received eyeglasses, and 56 children diagnosed with eye diseases, including infectious and allergic conjunctivitis, blepharitis, keratitis (keratopathy), retinopathy, and accommodation spasm, received medication from the Meghrigian Institute. Those who had other eye conditions requiring hospital care were referred to specialized centers for further examination.  

“We hope to decrease avoidable visual impairment among socially vulnerable children in Armenia. Existing evidence suggests that about 7%–31% of childhood (under 15 years old) blindness and visual impairment could be avoided,” stated Aida Giloyan, senior researcher of the Meghrigian Institute.

The AUA Turpanjian College of Health Sciences works actively to improve population health and health services in Armenia and the region through interdisciplinary education and development of health professionals to be leaders in public health, nursing, health services research and evaluation, and health care delivery and management.