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Prevent Blindness America mourns loss of sight-saving pioneer

Chicago—Prevent Blindness America (PBA) is mourning the loss of its former leader and a pioneer in sight-saving initiatives.

Virginia S. Boyce Schoonmaker served as executive director of PBA from 1972 to 1982, holding several executive staff positions over the past 35 years. Among her achievements with the organization were the design and promotion of a home eye test for preschoolers and a TV eye test, development of the first U.S. glaucoma screening and educational program, and leadership in educational campaigns for diabetic retinopathy, sporting eye injuries, and cataracts.

"It is with sadness that we learned of her passing. But we are inspired by her passion and dedication to preserving vision and pledge to continue our common mission of protecting the precious gift of sight in her honor," said Hugh R. Parry, president and chief executive officer, PBA.

Several organizations honored Schoonmaker over the years, including the National Health Council, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Delta Gamma Fraternity, the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology, International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, and the Benedictine Foundation. PBA honored her with a lifetime achievement award and established the Virginia S. Boyce Award for outstanding service to the public and vision health community.

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