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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 12, 2004
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR Cites New Data on Age-Related Eye Disease as Support for Funding NEI at $711 Million in FY2005

(Washington, DC) Today, the National Eye Institute (NEI) released data showing that more than 38 million Americans age 40+ currently experience blindness, low vision, or serious age-related eye disease , and another 42 million currently experience a refractive error (nearsighted/farsighted). Most importantly, NEI states that these numbers will significantly increase by the year 2020 as the population ages.

The data, which was prepared for the NEI by the Eye Disease Prevalence Research Group, a consortium of principal investigators who have conducted population-based eye disease studies, show that:

  • Blindness or low vision currently affect 3.3 million Americans age 40+, or one in 28, and is projected to reach 5.5 million by the year 2020.
  • Age-related eye diseases currently affect more than 35 million Americans age 40+, and include intermediate-to-advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy. This number is projected to increase to about 50 million by the year 2020.

"These numbers support NAEVR's position that the NEI should be funded at $711 million in the federal Fiscal Year 2005 budget so that it can continue the groundbreaking basic and translational research that is resulting in effective treatments and therapies," said NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky. He added that, "NEI has updated its estimate of the economic and societal cost of eye disease and vision impairment to $68 billion annually, and this cost will only increase as the population ages."

NAEVR recently submitted testimony to the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee, in which it called for NEI funding at $711 million in FY2005 since:

  • Eye and vision disease is now at epidemic proportions
  • Adequately funding the NEI is a cost-effective investment
  • Past NEI funding has successfully resulted in key basic and translational research findings that must be pursued in the future.

Jorkasky noted that NAEVR's related educational foundation, the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR), will sponsor a Capitol Hill Briefing entitled The Aging Eye, to be held on May 13, 2004, from 12 Noon - 1:15 pm in Rayburn B-354

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.