Highmark Inc. Grant Supports Blindness Prevention For Children

Highmark Inc. recently awarded
$50,000 to the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind (PAB) for its
statewide Prevention of Blindness program designed to prevent vision loss
and impairment in children.

The incidence of visual impairment in children is alarming. According
to Prevent Blindness America, vision problems affect one in 20 preschoolers
and one in four school-age children. For more than 95 years, PAB has been
Pennsylvania’s leading private association in the ongoing struggle to
prevent serious vision conditions due to disease and eye injuries.

“Eye health and clear vision are very important to the development and
education of children,” said Yvonne Cook, vice president Community Health
Initiatives at Highmark Inc. “There is documented evidence that undiagnosed
vision problems in children can result in behavior and other medical
issues. Highmark is pleased to support PAB, a vital resource for vision

As the statewide coordinator, PAB works with member agencies to ensure
standardized and accurate statewide vision screenings and educational
programs. PAB will be disbursing funds from its grant to eight of its
member agencies that provide the services. These agencies are:

— Berks County Association for the Blind

— Butler County Association for the Blind

— Keystone Blind Association

— Lawrence County Association for the Blind

— Somerset County Blind Center

— Tri-County Association for the Blind

— Vision & Blindness Resources (VBR) – Erie Center

— Westmoreland County Blind Association

“Highmark Blue Shield has shown a sincere and generous commitment to
preventing blindness and serious visual impairment in our communities,”
said Neal J. Carrigan, PAB president & CEO. “These grant funds will be
invaluable to our agencies and the children they serve in 17 counties
across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

The Prevention of Blindness program focuses on three main areas of
vision health: complete vision screenings/exam for preschool children;
educational sessions that use child-friendly DVDs, books and games; and
facilitating referrals to licensed optometrists or ophthalmologists.

In the fiscal year 2005-06, almost 70,000 children received vision
screenings and more than 40,000 children participated in educational
sessions across the state.

About Highmark

As one of the leading health insurers in Pennsylvania, Highmark Inc.’s
mission is to provide access to affordable, quality health care enabling
individuals to live longer, healthier lives. Based in Pittsburgh, Highmark
serves 4.6 million people through the company’s health care benefits
business. Highmark contributes millions of dollars to help keep quality
health care programs affordable and to support community-based programs
that work to improve people’s health. The company provides the resources to
give its members a greater hand in their health.

Highmark Inc. is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue
Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue
Shield Plans. For more information, visit highmark.

About the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind

The Pennsylvania Association for the Blind has been dedicated to
helping people prevent, prepare for, and manage vision loss since 1910. As
one of very few incorporated statewide blindness-related membership
agencies in the United States, PAB provides comprehensive blindness and
visual impairment services in 67 counties. Through PAB’s Prevention of
Blindness programs and Specialized Services, thousands of Pennsylvanians
benefit from PAB’s services. PAB provides: vision screenings and
educational programs, escorted transportation services, home management/
safety retrofitting, life skills training, adjustment to blindness
counseling, access technology and computer training, Braille instruction,
orientation and mobility training, financial support services, radio
reading, summer instructional programs, preschool programs, health
education, low vision clinics, vocational rehabilitation, and more.

Highmark Inc.