Laguna Beach doctor receives national award for humanitarian work in Armenia

Armenian Eye Care Project founder Dr. Roger Ohanesian sees a patient in Armenia while local physicians observe. Photo courtesy of AECP

Dr. Roger Ohanesian, a 47-year resident of Laguna Beach, was recently honored for 30 years of humanitarian work in Armenia to eliminate preventable blindness by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

In 1992, the Orange County-based ophthalmologist made his first trip to Armenia, his ancestral homeland. Countless residents were injured in a deadly earthquake, including many with eye injuries who needed treatment quickly.

Soon after this trip, Ohanesian founded the nonprofit Armenian Eye Care Project. On April 24, he received the coveted Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award in Washington, D.C.

“You have no idea when you start something what it’s going to turn out to be,” Ohanesian said in a statement. “It has truly, though, for me, been the honor of a lifetime.”

Over 100 physicians have voluntarily visited Armenia to train local physicians and work on complicated cases with coordination by the Armenian Eye Care Project. Armenian ophthalmologists received advanced education and training through U.S. fellowships. The nonprofit has also created a mobile eye hospital.

“For 30 years, Roger has dedicated his life to helping people rise above blindness half a world away. He’s been passionate, he’s been persistent, and he’s been extremely efficient in gathering resources and recruiting like-minded volunteers through his contagious enthusiasm and folksy charm,” said Dr. John Hovanesian, a fellow Orange County ophthalmologist.

The ASCRS Foundation’s Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award is endowed by a $50,000 gift from Dr. David Chang and Victoria Chang, which Ohanesian has gifted to the Armenian EyeCare Project.

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