Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

September 26, 2018
Contact: John Lyon, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
               Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512

Protect your eyes as you age with a healthy lifestyle and regular eye exams

NEW CITY, NY - - Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert announced today that September is Healthy Aging Month. The theme this year is "Live Well. Age Well. See Well."

"In addition to eating healthy foods, staying active, controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and not smoking, aging well also means taking good care of your eyes," said Dr. Ruppert.

There are many things you can do to reduce your risk of vision loss from eye disease and make sure your eyes are healthy. The National Eye Institute recommends that you follow these simple steps:
• Have a comprehensive dilated eye exam: You might think your vision is fine or that your eyes are healthy, but getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to really be sure. During this exam, your eye care professional places drops in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupil to allow more light to enter the eye so they can get a good look at the back of your eyes and examine them for any signs of damage or disease.
• Know your risk factors: As you get older, you are at higher risk of developing age-related eye diseases and conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract, diabetic eye disease, dry eye, and glaucoma. Having a family history of eye disease also puts you at higher risk. If you are overweight or obese, you are at increased risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions that can lead to vision loss.
• Eat right to protect your sight: You've probably heard that carrots are good for your eyes, however eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables—particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens—is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too. Research has also shown that there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut. A healthy diet can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which can help protect your vision.
• Wear your sunglasses and a brimmed hat to protect your eyes from the sun's harmful rays. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation. Prolonged sun exposure is associated with developing AMD and cataract.
• Don't smoke: smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing AMD, cataract, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to vision loss and blindness. For help to quit smoking call the Health Department's Put It Out Rockland program at 364-2651 or the New York State Smokers Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS.
• Use protective eyewear such as goggles, safety glasses, face shields, and eye guards when playing sports or doing activities around the home, and encourage your family and friends to do the same. Most protective eyewear lenses are made of polycarbonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics. Many eye care providers sell protective eyewear, as do some sporting goods stores.

For more information, visit the National Eye Institute website at