The National Eye Institute (NEI) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is responsible for funding sight-saving and sight-restoring vision research. The annual cost for vision disorders/blindness in the United States is $139 billion. Direct medical costs associated with vision disorders are the fifth highest-only less than heart disease, cancers, emotional disorders, and pulmonary conditions. Adequately funding vision research is vital due to the following:
NEI’s FY2014 funding of $682 million, which reflects about half of the FY2013 sequester cut being restored, is still less than 0.5 percent of the $139 billion annual cost of vision disorders. The U.S. is only spending $2.10 per-person, per-year for vision research, while the cost of treating low vision and blindness is $6,680 per-person, per-year
Vision loss can be a co-morbid condition of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, which is at epidemic levels due to the increased incidence of obesity.
In public opinion polls over the past fifty years, Americans have identified fear of vision loss as second only to fear of cancer-and for which they would trade remaining years of life to avoid.