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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 17, 2017
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR RELEASES FY2017 and 2018 FUNDING REQUESTS FOR NIH/NEI AND DOD’s VISION RESEARCH PROGRAM

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) released its Fiscal Years (FYs) 2017 and 2018 funding requests. Since Congress has not yet finalized FY2017 appropriations—the government is operating under a Continuing Resolution until April 28, 2017—the Alliance’s requests relate to two fiscal years at this time.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Eye Institute (NEI):

Consistent with its advocacy conducted throughout 2016, NAEVR urges Congress to support the FY2017 $2 billion NIH funding increase to $34.1 billion, as proposed by the Senate Appropriations Committee. This increase to the NIH base—in addition to supplemental funding for specific projects in the 21st Century Cures Act—reflects real growth above biomedical inflation. The Senate-proposed increase funds NEI at $741 million, a $33 million increase over FY2016, to support sight-saving and sight-restoring research.

NAEVR also urges Congress to support at least a $2 billion funding increase in FY2018 above that in FY2017—in addition to supplemental funding for specific projects in the 21st Century Cures Act—with NEI funding at $800 million.

NAEVR’s position is supported by a graphic which shows that, while the FY2016 NIH funding increase of $2 billion to $32.1 billion resulted in an increase in the NEI’s operating budget to $708 million, that level reflects the first time in four years (after the devastating impact of the $36 million sequester cut) that the NEI budget has grown above its FY2012 pre-sequester funding level of $702 million—albeit minimally (0.8 percent). The graphic also shows that NEI has lost 25 percent of its purchasing power since FY2003.

NAEVR’s position is also supported by a “Federal Funding for Vision Research is Vital” fact sheet that provides information about the incidence of vision impairment/eye disease and its projected annual cost by year 2050—$717 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars, up from $145 billion in 2014.

Department of Defense (DOD) Vision Research Program (VRP):

NAEVR urges Congress to fund the peer reviewed Vision Research Program in Defense appropriations at $15 million in FY2018, the same level proposed by Congress in FY2017. The FY2017 House Defense appropriations bill proposed VRP funding at $15 million for the first time—up $5 million from the funding level of $10 million in each FY2013-2016.

NAEVR’s $15 million VRP request for FY2017 and 2018 would fund DOD-identified research gaps in traumatic eye injury research, including penetrating eye injuries, corneal and retinal injury and protection, and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)-related visual disorders. Since the VRP was created by Congress in FY2009 appropriations, it has awarded 74 researchers a total of $62.8 million.

NAEVR’s FY2017 and 2018 VRP funding requests have been supported in the Independent Budget (IB), a set of recommendations regarding the full range of issues faced by our military veterans prepared by a coalition of Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and Military Service Organizations (MSOs), including NAEVR and its member organization Blinded Veterans Association (BVA).

The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a 501(c)4 non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of 55 professional, consumer, and industry organizations involved in eye and vision research. Visit the Web site at www.eyeresearch.org.