Roger V. Ohanesian, MD selected for 2022 ASCRS Foundation Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award
The ASCRS Foundation is proud to announce that Roger V. Ohanesian, MD is the 2022 recipient of the ASCRS Foundation Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award. Through his life-saving work in Armenia, Dr. Ohanesian’s story centers around family and charitable ophthalmic achievements. The award is set to be presented to him at the 2022 ASCRS ASOA Annual Meeting. The Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award is endowed by a generous gift from David and Victoria Chang to celebrate and honor outstanding humanitarian work with an emphasis on cataract blindness and disability. Dr. Ohanesian has earmarked the financial prize to the Armenian EyeCare Project.
“I have felt the Armenian EyeCare Project has given me an enormous sense of purpose and good feeling and has been the honor of a lifetime. To be recognized and lauded by my own colleagues within ASCRS for my thirty years of devotion to this cause is very gratifying. I would be remiss if I did not include those many ophthalmologists who have joined me multiple times to bring advanced diagnostic and surgical techniques to our very grateful colleagues in Armenia. I am in awe of what we have accomplished and immeasurably proud of how far this program has come.” – Roger Ohanesian, MD
Dr. Ohanesian was born in Boston, Massachusetts as the son of two first-generation Armenian immigrants. His interest in medicine stemmed from growing up within a family of accomplished medical practitioners. Dr. Ohanesian was aware from a young age that he wanted to pursue a career in medicine and was inspired by his grandmother to train in ophthalmology. She became blind after an unsuccessful cataract surgery and Dr. Ohanesian promised he would dedicate his life to making sure no one again should have to suffer that fate.
Dr. Ohanesian graduated from Boston University and went on to receive his medical education at the University of Vermont. He continued with a Residency in Ophthalmology and then Clinical Fellowship both at the Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ohanesian founded Harvard Eye Associates in California where he currently works as President.
Thirty years ago, Dr. Ohanesian received an emergency communication from Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Health, requesting assistance from practicing medical experts worldwide to serve in the war-torn country. He heeded the call and boarded a flight to Armenia where he immediately began to meet with patients at the Republican Eye Hospital in Yerevan. Dr. Ohanesian worked tirelessly for the next two weeks, treating over 300 patients, and performing almost 40 surgeries. Nearly all those were war casualties and about half were children. This life-changing experience in Armenia became a focal point of his career.
After returning from his initial trip to the country, Dr. Ohanesian founded the Armenian Eyecare Project which is dedicated to eliminating preventable blindness and expanding access to accessible eyecare in Armenia. Since then, he has returned to the country over 50 times and brought doctors who specialize in retinas, glaucoma, cornea, and reconstructive surgery, as well as millions of dollars’ worth of medical equipment. These doctors have performed countless surgeries, provided training to Armenian doctors, and assisted in the creation of the country’s first corneal eye bank. Additionally, they helped set up a medical center in Nagorno-Karabakh and, with great thanks to Dr. Ohanesian, successfully created an unprecedented ophthalmic program in a country that desperately needed assistance.
John Hovanesian, MD states “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. He has been completely unselfish, seeking to recognize others for their contributions rather than drawing attention to his own. But make no mistake: he has been remarkably effective, in the early years at addressing existing disease and more recently at supporting preventive measures. In Armenia, his name is spoken with the greatest reverence. Very few of us will ever leave a mark on this world as important as that of Roger Ohanesian.”
It is rare that one knows that they want to participate and advance vision restoring medical achievements for underserved populations from such a young age. The number of lives that have been touched and forever changed by Dr. Ohanesian is immeasurable. We are inspired by his career and honored to bestow the 2022 ASCRS Foundation Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award to Dr. Ohanesian to recognize his contributions to ophthalmology and the world.
Read more about the ASCRS Foundation Chang-Crandall Humanitarian Award here.