Meghrigian Institute Provides Eye Care to Socially Disadvantaged Children

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YEREVAN, Armenia — In November 2023, 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, launched an eye screening program for socially vulnerable children. The initiative aimed to decrease visual impairment among the target population through the provision of comprehensive ophthalmic examination and the distribution of eyeglasses to those in need.

The staff of the Meghrigian Institute visited the Ajapnyak Children’s Social Care Center and Zatik Child Assistance Center in Yerevan, both of which serve socially vulnerable and orphaned children. Overall, 161 out of 170 children participated in the detailed eye screenings.

In January 2024, the Meghrigian Institute distributed 19 eyeglasses to children who were diagnosed with refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. Children diagnosed with eye diseases including infectious and allergic conjunctivitis, blepharitis, keratitis (keratopathy), retinopathy, and accommodation spasm received a prescription by the Meghrigian Institute’s qualified ophthalmologist. Those who had other eye conditions needing hospital care were referred to specialized centers for more detailed examinations.

Uncorrected refractive error is the most common cause of visual impairment in children.  According to the World Health Organization, approximately 19 million children and adolescents are visually impaired worldwide, among which approximately 12.8 million cases (67%) are due to uncorrected refractive error. Providing appropriate refractive correction to children experiencing unaddressed refractive errors will reduce visual impairment among children and improve their overall well-being.

“Uncorrected refractive error can lead to amblyopia, limit or slow academic progress, diminish social interaction, and impair quality of life. Refractive errors can be easily diagnosed, measured, and corrected,” explained Aida Giloyan, senior researcher at 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.