Honorees: Dr Roger V. Ohanesian

Dr. Ohanesian is an acknowledged leader in eye surgery and presently teaches medical and surgical techniques in the United States and internationally. As the founder of Harvard Eye Associates 30 years ago, he has remained involved in the development of new procedures for a wide variety of ophthalmic conditions and shares his expertise with other eye doctors as a diagnostic and surgical consultant.

After high school, where he was an active Scout and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, Roger attended Boston University followed by four years at the University of Vermont’s College of Medicine. His training continued with an internship at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York and at the National Institute of Health in Public Health Services in Bethesda, Maryland. Roger began his specialty training in eye surgery at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard University’s Ophthalmology program. While resident at Harvard, he met and married Eileen Smyth who was personnel supervisor of the hospital. After completing his training, they moved to a suburb of Boston relocating to California in 1975 and opened offices in Laguna Beach and San Clemente. There are presently six eye surgeons who have joined him in the practice.

In 1992, during the aftermath of war and earthquake in Armenia, Roger made his first trip to Armenia and founded the Armenian EyeCare Project (AECP) in 1994. Since that first trip, Roger has returned to Armenia more than 30 times. He has brought along U.S. ophthalmologists as well as over $9 million in medical equipment.

Along with performing thousands of surgeries, the American doctors have provided training to Armenian doctors, helped in the creation of the country’s first Corneal Eye Bank, traveled throughout Armenia with the Mobile Eye Hospital delivering ophthalmic care, and with a substantial donation from Pfizer established a state-of-the-art Training Center with a Wet Lab.

The Project has also sponsored patients to come to the United States for medical treatment as well as seven fellowships for Armenian doctors in highly specialized areas of glaucoma, vitreo-retinal diseases, corneal-uveal diseases, neuro-ophthalmology and orbital surgery, pediatric ophthalmology and low vision. Armenia is now considered the “Center of Excellence for Eye Care” in the entire region.

Dr. Ohanesian has received numerous honors and awards including The Ellis Island Award; The Humanitarian Award for Service to Armenia from the Armenian American Medical Society; an Operating Room Dedication to R.V. Ohanesian, M.D. at the Republican Eye Hospital in Yerevan; the Outstanding Service Award by the then President of Armenia, Levon Ter Petrossian; the Humanitarian of the Year Award by the Armenian Professional Society and an Outstanding Clinical Professor Award from the University of California at Irvine.

Armenia and the goals of reducing preventable blindness have become his life’s work – which he pursues tirelessly.