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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2008
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

THE INDEPENDENT BUDGET FOR VA FUNDING RECOMMENDS EYE AND VISION ELIGIBIITY IN THE FY2009 DOD/PRMRP PROGRAM, URGES VA-DOD EYE TRAUMA FUNDING

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) announced that The Independent Budget, an annual set of recommendations to Congress regarding Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funding, has made recommendations regarding Special Needs Veterans, specifically Blinded Veterans, for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 funding process. The Independent Budget—developed by AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and supported by 54 other organizations—recommends that:

  • The Congressionally Directed Peer Medical Research Program, in which eye and vision research has been listed as eligible for funding within the $50 million Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP), must continue to include eye and vision research in the Department of Defense (DOD appropriation for FY2009, and Congress should authorize more VA-DOD research funding on eye trauma.

  • Congress must create a DOD military eye trauma "Center of Excellence" and "Eye Trauma Registry" that electronically exchange information with eye care professionals within the VA to improve seamless transition.

NAEVR has distributed its FY2009 DOD/PRMRP listing request on Capitol Hill and has begun working with its champions in the House and Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittees. Eye and vision research has been listed in FY2006-FY2008 for this program, which enables researchers in eligible areas to compete for a pool of $50 million of peer-reviewed funding. In FY2006, its first year of eligibility, the vision community submitted 52 grant requests to the DOD, or 8 percent of all submissions, and was awarded 7 grants out of the 51 issued, for a funding total of $6.3 million, or 12 percent. Examples of this research include: corneal healing, as well as ways to improve corneal transplantation by regulating the lymphatic pathway servicing the cornea; corneal wound infection control; laser injuries; and support for ongoing work on a "Retinal Implant" to restore vision through electronic stimulation of the retina.

Regarding eye trauma, the FY2008 Defense Authorization Act included provisions of the Military Eye Trauma Treatment Act which would:

  • Create a “Center of Excellence” within the DOD that would collaborate with the VA on a comprehensive approach to the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, and rehabilitation of eye injuries and trauma, including a “Military Eye Injury Registry” to track the diagnosis and treatment of each significant eye injury incurred by a member of the armed forces while on active duty; and

  • Create a joint DOD/VA program to coordinate on all aspects of visual dysfunction related to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), including screening, diagnosis, rehabilitative management, and research.

NAEVR supported this legislation, and will work with all appropriate federal and private entities to ensure that both the "Center of Excellence" and "Military Eye Trauma Registry" are established.

The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of 55 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.