ARMENIA—On this World Diabetes Day, the Armenian EyeCare Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating preventable blindness in Armenia, announced that it has surpassed the milestone of screening 10,000 patients for diabetic retinopathy throughout Armenia. They’ve done so by utilizing the state-of-the-art EyeArt® AI Eye Screening System (Eyenuk, Inc., Los Angeles, USA). AECP thanks the World Diabetes Foundation and Armenia’s Ministry of Health for their support in achieving this milestone.
Founded in 1992, the Armenian EyeCare Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating preventable blindness in Armenia and making quality eye care accessible to every Armenian child and adult in the country.
During the last two years, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health of Armenia and with support from the WDF, AECP utilized the EyeArt system to screen over 10,000 patients using AI technology. As a result, approximately 1,000 patients were identified as having DR. Approximately 350 of those who had vision-threatening DR received sight-saving treatment soon after the diagnosis.
“DR is a silent, blinding disease. Most people with diabetes have no symptoms until their vision is irreversibly damaged. While annual ophthalmic screening is recommended for all people with diabetes, less than half get screened yearly, even in the developed world,” said Roger Ohanesian, MD, AECP Founder and President. “This milestone, of 10,000 patients screened, makes Armenia one of the leading countries in the world to have implemented cutting-edge AI technology to truly benefit patients in low resource settings.”
The Armenian government is implementing a strategy to prevent diabetes and improve care for diabetes patients. In support of this, AECP began rolling out the Preventing Blindness from Diabetic Retinopathy project in 2016. The project, which will bring DR screening and care to 87 clinics across the country, is supported by the World Diabetes Foundation.
“The use of EyeArt in Armenia offers an intriguing, real-world test of this technology in a low-resource setting,” said Leif Fenger Jensen, Managing Director of World Diabetes Foundation. “We applaud the vision exemplified by Dr. Ohanesian and the AECP organization in preserving vision for diabetes patients in Armenia, and we hope that medical breakthroughs such as AI medical diagnostics can help more diabetes patients around the world.”
The EyeArt System is developed by Eyenuk, Inc. (Los Angeles). It provides fully automated DR screening, including imaging, grading, and reporting in a single visit, without the need for eye dilation. Shortly after photographing the retina, and while the patient is still in clinic, a report is issued, which is used to determine whether the patient needs to be evaluated by a specialist right away for potential treatment or seen again in 12 months.
The Armenian EyeCare Project’s mission is to eliminate preventable blindness in Armenia and to make quality eye care accessible to every child and adult in the country. Since being founded in 1992, we have been following our vision for Armenia – a country where no individual is without access to quality eye care; where Armenian ophthalmologists are trained to diagnose and treat eye disease at the highest level; and where preventable causes of blindness are eliminated through an emphasis on prevention and early intervention. Due to our several sight-saving programs, the EyeCare Project has been able to offer eye care to over 500,000 residents in Armenia, restore the sight of over 20,000 Armenians through surgery and provide more than 70,000 eyeglasses at no cost. To learn more, visit the website.
The World Diabetes Foundation is a leading global funder of diabetes prevention and care projects in the developing world. Our vision is to alleviate human suffering related to diabetes among those in greatest need. We pursue sustainable, scalable approaches, helping countries meet global goals for improved care of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.
Since 2002, the World Diabetes Foundation has provided 150 million USD in funding to 558 partnership projects in 116 countries. For every dollar of WDF funding provided, about 2 dollars in cash or in-kind donations are contributed to the supported projects from other sources. To learn more, visit the website.