A Year of Visionary Triumphs: Celebrating Remarkable Successes in Eye and Vision Research Advocacy

In 2023, NAEVR led appropriations efforts for FY2024 NEI funding. Although Congress has not yet finalized FY2024 appropriations (the government is currently operating under a “laddered” CR until March 8 for the LHHS bill), the House-passed bill proposes a decrease of $2.76B for the NIH, while including level funding of $896.55M for the NEI, and the Senate bill proposes a modest increase of $1.76B for the NIH and includes level funding for the NEI. NAEVR led advocacy efforts for NEI funding in a particularly challenging environment made more difficult by the Fiscal Responsibility Act (debt ceiling agreement) that set strict caps on federal spending in FY2024 and FY2025, essentially freezing funding levels for two years. Since 2017, Congress has increased NIH funding by $10.65B and NEI funding by $158M. 

NAEVR partnered with ARVO, the Rally for Medical Research, and the Coalition for Health Funding to support advocacy days to increase funding for NEI, including providing training, guidance, and talking points, and served as a state lead for the Rally for Medical Research advocacy day.

NAEVR hosted a session at the ARVO Annual Meeting in New Orleans about research grant opportunities for vision researchers through the $20M managed by the Department of Defense's Vision Research Program (VRP) in support of military eye trauma research. For FY2024, NAEVR once again led advocacy for VRP funding in Defense Appropriations, proposed at $20M in the House-passed bill.

AEVR’s Research Saving Sight, Restoring Vision Initiative hosted five Congressional Briefings that shared advancements in research in glaucoma, rare eye disease, dry eye disease, age-related macular degeneration, and myopia (in partnership with the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Optometry). All of the briefings brought insights from researchers and patients to highlight disease incidence and cost, information about the conditions, and provided information on the impacts of existing research and opportunities for vision research to improve health outcomes while emphasizing the importance and role of NEI-funded research.

AEVR hosted its ninth annual Emerging Vision Scientists Day, bringing 30 early-stage scientists from around the country representing 14 states and Puerto Rico to Washington, D.C. AEVR provided training on how to effectively share their research with a policy-oriented, non-research audience and how to advocate for vision research. The EVSs visited 55 offices, including with several Members, and attended AEVR's International AMD Week Congressional briefing before displaying posters about their research at AEVR's Congressional Reception, held in the Rayburn Building Courtyard.

As a result of NAEVR/AEVR activities, a Congressional Sign-on Letter to support NEI funding has been proposed from Congressman Emanual Cleaver’s office in 2024 which NAEVR will continue to pursue with our partners.