World Sight Day 2010: Eye screenings among socially vulnerable school children in Armenia

World Sight Day is an annual event that occurs on the second Thursday in October. The aim is to raise public awareness around the world for prevention and treatment of eye problems. This year the focus is on equal access to eye health care.

The Garo Meghrigian Institute for Preventive Ophthalmology (Meghrigian Institute) was established in 1999 within the Center for Health Services Research and Development (CHSR) of the College of Health Sciences of the American University of Armenia (AUA). The mission of Meghrigian Institue is to prevent avoidable blindness in Armenia. The institute has implemented many programs and research projects, organized public and professional education through various blindness prevention seminars and conferences.

To celebrate the World Sight Day this year, October 14, Meghrigian Institute has started eye screenings among socially vulnerable school children to detect visual impairments and eye diseases and offer medical assistance. In September, Meghrigian Institute completed work in the Social Care Center for children of Achapnyak community in Yerevan. Detailed eye screening was carried out among 112 school children (6-17 years old). Now it targets 75 school children from “Marry Ismirlyan Orphanage”. The next stop will be at “Kharberd Specialized Orphanage”, where 158 children live and they all have special health needs. Meghrigian Institute organizes screenings and provides appropriate medical assistance to children with detected visual impairments or eye diseases.

Visual impairment and avoidable blindness among children have become a global public health problem, because they cause disability, suffering, and loss of productivity. Children 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. Majority of visual impairments can be easily diagnosed and corrected at early age to avoid further complications; that is the objective of Meghrigian Institute’s screening program.