Cataract Awareness Month


Between the yellow sunrises and the orange sunsets, from bright blue skies to starry nightscapes, Florida easily stands out as one of the country’s most visually appealing states. For these diverse visual features and more, it’s no wonder why so many families and individuals choose the Sunshine State as a retirement destination. And yet, due to maladies such as cataracts, not all of its citizens and welcomed visitors share the same view of our great state.

For the many citizens diagnosed with cataracts, this is an unfortunate reality. Cataracts, a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision, are a leading cause of visual impairment among aging Americans, affecting more than 22 million Americans aged 40 and older. That number is predicted to increase to 30.1 million by 2020. In 2007, Florida was ranked No.1 in residents aged 65 and older who are diagnosed with age-related eye diseases. These individuals are our parents, neighbors and loved ones, so it is important we do all that we can to increase awareness as we recognize August as Cataract Awareness Month.

The cataract visual impairment can become an incredible burden for its victims as it decreases the quality of life, ability to read, color perception, affects one’ independence, greatly increases the risk of injury and can destroy self-esteem, which may lead to depression. While being diagnosed with cataracts is a serious measure, there are early symptoms and signs of detection to help prevent any further occurrence of symptoms like faded color perception, cloudy or blurry vision, or frequently changing your prescription in your glasses or contact lenses.

Due to the large amount of sun we receive year round, Florida residents should take precaution and wear sunglasses and hats with a brim. Another source of protection comes from living a healthy lifestyle. Eating a diet of healthy foods (such as colorful fruits, vegetables, and whole grains), exercising, and not smoking can prevent cataracts. These are important steps we can take to live happier and healthier lives, empowering us to enjoy all the beauty the Sunshine State has to offer.

The Department of Education’s Division of Blind Services helps Floridians who are blind or visually impaired to acquire the skills and tools to live more independently within their homes and communities. Blind Services can assist individuals with adjustment to blindness, use of assistive technology, travel training and independent living skills. For more information about resources that support individuals with visual disabilities, contact Florida’s Division of Blind Services.

Florida Department of Education Recognizes Distinguished Educators

Pictured left to right: Diane McKee, the 2016 Florida Teacher of the Year; Dustin Sims, the 2015 Assistant Principal of the Year; Hershel Lyons, K-12 Public Schools Chancellor; and Angela Murphy-Osborne, the 2015 Principal of the Year.

Pictured left to right: Diane McKee, the 2016 Florida Teacher of the Year; Dustin Sims, the 2015 Assistant Principal of the Year; Hershel Lyons, K-12 Public Schools Chancellor; and Angela Murphy-Osborne, the 2015 Principal of the Year.

In Florida, we are fortunate to have some of the nation’s very best educators in the classroom, preparing our state’s students for a lifetime of success. We have more than 190,000 teachers, 4,000 principals and several thousand assistant principals, and, at the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), we feel it is incredibly important to recognize their contributions to student learning. We host a series of events throughout the year to honor those who fill these very important roles, and today we are excited to share about the most recent one.

On Monday, August 3, K-12 Public Schools Chancellor Hershel Lyons led a special recognition ceremony at the Turlington Building in Tallahassee. Those who have visited FDOE’s headquarters know that upon entering the building, guests immediately see the Florida Distinguished Educators Wall, which features photographs of just a few of Florida’s many outstanding educators.

Recently, we honored Diane McKee, the 2016 Florida Teacher of the Year; Angela Murphy-Osborne, the 2015 Principal of the Year; and Dustin Sims, the 2015 Assistant Principal of the Year as the 2015-16 Florida’s Distinguished Educators.

For the next year, their photos will be displayed in the Turlington Building lobby to serve as a daily reminder to all DOE employees and our guests of the vital role teachers play in the lives of our state’s students.

2016 Florida Teacher of the Year Diane McKee has been a businessperson turned teacher for 14 years. During her time, Diane has taken the term “raise the bar” literally, hanging a red bar in her room to remind her students of this goal daily. She has said that her students continually exceed her high expectations.

Principal Angela Murphy–Osborne has been a principal for 16 years and has been a true catalyst for igniting educational transformation within her schools. She led two Title I schools to success and helped Palmetto Elementary become the only elementary school in Florida to jump from an F to an A in 2013-14.

Former assistant principal Dustin Sims has been recently promoted to principal of Flagler Palm Coast High School for the upcoming year. Utilizing Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), principal Sims increased student achievement, moving Flagler Palm Coast High from a D in 2009-10 to an A in 2013-14.

At the Department of Education, we seize every opportunity to celebrate our educators. Having this event not only shows other educators that hard work pays off, but it also shows we are thankful and appreciative of all that you do. Congratulations to the newest members of the Florida Distinguished Educators Wall!