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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 6, 2005
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR Urges the Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee to Fund NEI at $711 Million in FY2006; Make Vision Health a "Top Priority"

(Washington, DC) Today, in a written statement and testimony submitted by 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 funding the National Eye Institute (NEI) at $711 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2006, an increase of 6 percent over FY2005, as well as funding the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at $30 billion, or a 6 percent increase over FY2005. The President's FY2006 budget proposes funding increases for the NEI and NIH at less than 1 percent.

"NAEVR requests that Congress make vision health a 'top priority' among the many priorities it faces in the FY2006 funding cycle," said Ryan, who added that "the 'Citizens Budget' of $711 million represents the eye and vision research community's judgment as the funding necessary to advance the breakthroughs resulting from NEI's basic and clinical research that will result in treatments and therapies to prevent eye disease and restore vision."

NAEVR cited the following as support for its request of $711 million for the NEI:

  • Eye and vision research responds to the nation's top public health challenges of an aging population, chronic diseases, health disparities, emerging diseases and biodefense.
  • The eye is a unique biological system offering exceptional experimental advantages in which to conduct genetic, neuroscience and cellular mechanism research.
  • Vision impairment and eye disease is a major public health problem that is growing and which disproportionately affects the aging and minority populations. By 2020, more than 50 million Americans will experience blindness, low vision or age-related eye disease, such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy or cataracts, unless NEI research can result in treatments and therapies to reverse this trend.
  • The annual economic and societal cost of vision impairment and eye disease of $68 billion in the United States is significant and growing. Adequately funding the NEI is a cost-effective investment in our nation's health, as it can delay, save and prevent expenditures, especially to the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
  • Past NEI-funded basic and translational research is resulting in treatments and therapies to slow the progression of vision loss and restore vision.

Ryan concluded by noting that, "NEI-sponsored research, which results in therapies that reduce healthcare expenses and returns individuals to productive roles in society, is a cost-effective investment in maintaining the momentum of discovery and vision health for all Americans."

To access NAEVR's written statement and testimony, click onto the home page of www.eyeresearch.org.

The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of 44 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.