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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2004
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR Urges Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee to Fund NIH at $30 Billion, NEI at $711 Million in FY2005

(Washington, DC) Today, in a statement and written testimony submitted by the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) President Dr. Stephen Ryan to the hearing file of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, NAEVR:

  • Supported FY2005 funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at $30 billion and commended NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni for fostering collaborative research that will result in cost-effective use of dollars through the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research.

  • Supported NEI funding of $711 million in FY2005, an increase of 8% over FY2004, as compared to the President's budget request of $672 million, or a 2.9% increase, over FY2004. The NEI is still only at 92% of its budget-doubling goal of $711 million.

In supporting the need for an NEI budget increase for FY2005, Dr. Ryan acknowledged Subcommittee Chairman Specter's (R-PA) March 11, 2004, statement on the Senate floor that, provided additional funding beyond that in the President's FY2005 budget request, NIH [NEI] could "launch an Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Clinical Trials Network." NAEVR contends that funding for projects such as these is vital since:

  • Eye and vision disease is now at epidemic proportions. As of the year 2000 census, more than 119 million people age 40+ in the United States were at risk from age-related eye disease such as AMD, glaucoma, and cataracts. NEI estimates the economic and societal cost of eye and vision impairment as $50 billion annually and growing.

  • Adequately funding the NEI is a cost-effective investment. For example, NEI's Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Trials Network has resulted in treatments that were 95% effective and save an estimated $1.2-$1.6 billion per year. With an aging population, adequately funding eye and vision research now can reduce and potentially prevent expenditures to the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

  • Past NEI funding has successfully resulted in key basic and translational research findings that must be pursued in the future. From slowing the progression of cataracts to using retinal implants to restore sight, and from controlling intraocular pressure in glaucoma to developing gene therapies, NEI-sponsored research is culminating in treatments and therapies that restore vision and prevent the onset of disease.

Click here to view a PDF file of the NAEVR Statement and Written Testimony.

The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of nearly 50 professional, consumer, and industry organizations involved in eye and vision research. NAEVR's goal is to achieve the best vision for all Americans through advocacy and public education for eye and vision research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Eye Institute (NEI), and other federal research entities. Visit NAEVR's Web site at www.eyeresearch.org.