Uninsured New York School Children to Receive Free Eye Exams and Glasses Unique Community Collaboration by OneSight® and Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation Gives the Gift of Sight to Children in Need

NEW YORK, Sept. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation and OneSight®, a Luxottica Foundation dedicated to providing clear vision for those in need, have teamed to bring "EyeLeen," the brand new OneSight Vision Van, to New York on Monday, September 26 and Tuesday, September 27. Students from kindergarten through middle school were pre-selected (based on their visual and financial needs) to receive free vision care, including full eye exams and new eyewear. Held at Roosevelt School, 60 Underhill Avenue, Roosevelt, NY, local doctors, community partners, brokers, as well as employees from LensCrafters, Sunglass Hut, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical and Target Optical will provide services and assistance to students from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Bright Futures, 3rd Edition, school-aged children should be evaluated for visual difficulties at their annual visit and formally screened according to the AAP's recommended schedule. In addition, the American Public Health Association (APHA) recently reported that one-in-four children in kindergarten through sixth grade have visual disabilities that affect their ability to learn. Some studies indicate that 80 percent of learning in children occurs visually; yet 86 percent of children do not receive a vision exam during these formative years.  

"This collaborative effort to bring the Vision Van to New York will help make a meaningful difference in the lives of children who might not otherwise have had their vision needs met," says Mark Wagar, president and CEO, Empire BlueCross BlueShield. "Our hope is that this service will provide these children with improved self-esteem and a better opportunity to live life to the fullest."  

"OneSight provides important opportunities through clear vision that enable children to succeed in school and ultimately, in life," says Kellie Gomia of OneSight. "We have seen many cases where a pair of glasses has made the difference in helping a child accomplish greater scholastic success or simply see clearly for the first time. Watching a child's face light up as the world comes into focus is something you never forget."

"An eye exam is one of the best forms of preventative medicine today. Good vision health is connected to overall health and well-being. Supporting the Vision Van helps these children to more clearly experience the world around them," says Jeff Spahr, staff vice president of Vision and Voluntary Services for Empire Blue Cross BlueShield.

In addition to serving children in communities throughout the country with the Vision Van, OneSight also performs two-week Global Clinics designed to hand-deliver eye exams and recycled, donated eyewear to underprivileged individuals around the world. To date, more than 3.5 million people have been helped during Global Clinics.

About OneSight

OneSight, a Luxottica Foundation and a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation in the U.S., is a family of charitable programs dedicated to improving vision for those in need worldwide through outreach, research and education. OneSight's outreach programs include the hand-delivery of vision care and eyewear to those in need. Since 1988, OneSight outreach efforts have helped more than eight million people around the world see more clearly, and has granted millions of dollars towards vision preservation and thousands of dollars in scholarships to students pursuing a degree in Optometry. Luxottica (a global leader in eyewear manufacturing, distribution and retail) employees, Luxottica-affiliated and independent doctors, vendors, donors and other charitable partners worldwide, work together to give the gift of sight to those in need. Luxottica provides inspiration for OneSight and it is the foundation's main sponsor. For more information visit www.onesight.org.

About the Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation

Through charitable grant making, the Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation and the Empire BlueCross Foundation, trade names of the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation L.L.C., independent licensees of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, serving residents and businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State, promotes Empire's inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Empire serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company's annual associate giving campaign and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates' campaign pledges. To learn more about the Foundation please visit www.wellpointfoundation.org.

About Empire BlueCross BlueShield

Serving New Yorkers for over 75 years, Empire BlueCross BlueShield is the largest health insurer in New York supporting nearly six million members and more than 38,000 business, union and small employers in New York. Empire BlueCross BlueShield (Empire) is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice Assurance, Inc., and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice HMO, Inc., independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, serving residents and businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State. Additional information about Empire is available at www.empireblue.com. Also, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/healthjoinin, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HealthJoinInEmpire, or visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/healthjoinin.

NOTE: All students have been pre-screened and unfortunately walk-ins cannot be accepted.

SOURCE Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation



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