NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.—For the past 25 years, the Armenian EyeCare Project has delivered quality eye care to hundreds of thousands of people in Armenia. During this time, the organization has treated more than 3,000 cases of diabetic retinopathy—a serious complication of diabetes that affects the eyes.
Diabetic eye disease, the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness among working-age adults, encompasses a group of eye conditions that affect people with diabetes. All forms of diabetic eye disease—diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataract, and glaucoma—have the potential to cause severe vision loss and blindness. However, early detection and treatment can reduce the risk of blindness by 95 percent.
To reduce vision impairment and blindness from diabetic eye disease in Armenia, the World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) has awarded the Armenian EyeCare Project a $200,000 grant for a three-year diabetes program, 2017 through 2020. The new program will focus on prevention and early intervention for diabetes-related eye disease with an emphasis on easing the suffering from diabetes and its complications among low-income groups in Armenia.
Early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up care of diabetic eye disease can reduce the need for complicated surgeries and protect against vision loss.
The WDF grant will facilitate the EyeCare Project’s efforts to raise awareness about the disease through the production and distribution of public education materials to thousands of Armenians. Other efforts to identify diabetic eye disease early include the organization of eye screenings at local polyclinics and medical centers in Armenia for an estimated 175,000 to 300,000 Armenians.
An important feature of the program is photographing the retina of each patient with diabetes each year. The photographs will be evaluated by physicians for signs of disease, the assessments recorded and the photographs retained. This will enable physicians to observe and evaluate early retina changes and treat patients so they can protect their sight before it is too late.
For patients diagnosed with diabetes-related eye disease, the Armenian EyeCare Project will follow up with laser treatments and cataract surgeries aboard the AECP Mobile Eye Hospital or at AECP Regional Eye Clinics. Physicians at these facilities will have the benefit of consulting with local physicians and teleconferencing with leading eye care specialists in Yerevan and around the world using state-of-the-art telemedicine equipment.
In addition to patient-centered prevention and treatment programs, an integral component of the WDF-AECP diabetes program will be a training program for up to 1,000 physicians and nurses in diabetes-related eye disease and general eye care.
“This grant will enable us to help lots of people in Armenia with diabetes and broaden the scope of our programs,” AECP Founder Dr. Roger Ohanesian said. “Still, there is much more work to do in this area and we call upon our loyal supporters to continue to lend a helping hand to their brothers and sisters in Armenia.”
If you would like to donate to the AECP’s Diabetes Program, please call their office at (949) 933-4069 or visit eyecareproject.com.