Garo Meghrigian Institute for Preventive Ophthalmology (Meghrigian Institute) was established in 1999 within the Center for Health Services Research and Development (CHSR) of the School of Public Health of the American University of Armenia (AUA). The mission of Meghrigian Institute is to prevent avoidable blindness. Meghrigian Institute has implemented many eye programs and research projects in Armenia and Artsakh, organized public and professional education through various blindness prevention seminars and conferences.
Since 2003, Meghrigian Institute has continuously strengthened primary and secondary level eye care services in Gegharkunik through establishing the Lions Regional Ophthalmic Unit (ROU) in Sevan in collaboration with the Ararat Lions Club, enhancing rural examination centers with basic ophthalmic equipment and supplies, implementing eye screenings (among school children, general population living in remote areas of the region, and diabetic patients), and ophthalmic trainings of ophthalmologists, primary health care specialists, and nurses including the school nurses.
World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of awareness to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. The international theme for World Sight Day 2013 is Universal eye health, with a call to action – “Get your eyes tested”.
To celebrate the World Sight Day, Meghrigian Institute donated ophthalmic trial lens sets and trial frames to the ophthalmic offices of polyclinics and health centers of five main towns in Gegharkunik (Sevan, Gavar, Martuni, Vardenis and Tchambarak) based on the needs assessment that Meghrigian Institute conducted in these health facilities. In addition, Meghrigian Institute organized free screenings of the population to promote the idea of “Get your eyes tested” and gave eye frames to those who were diagnosed to have refractive errors.
Visual impairment and avoidable blindness are global public health problems, since they lead to disability, suffering, and loss of productivity. People live in blindness for many years due to preventable causes like Vitamin A deficiency, congenital or traumatic cataract, untreated infections, and unidentified refractive errors: nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Whereas, many visual impairments could be easily diagnosed and corrected at early age to avoid further complications. Donated equipment and continuous population screenings will help with early detection of refractive errors in Gegharkunik marz.
The National Public TV covered the event.
The AUA School of Public Health works actively to improve the health of the populace and health services in Armenia and the region through interdisciplinary education and development of public health professionals and others to be leaders in public health, health services research and evaluation, and health care delivery and management.