NAEVR Releases Congressional Requests for FY2021 Funding for NIH/NEI, DOD Vision Research Program

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 funding requests as it begins its campaigns for National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Eye Institute (NEI) funding, as well as that for the Department of Defense (DOD) Vision Research Program. Member organizations among the first on Capitol Hill to use NAEVR’s NIH/NEI funding positions include the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in its February 7 Advocacy Day and the American Glaucoma Society (AGS) in its February 26 Advocacy Day.     

FY2021 NIH/NEI Funding Requests:
NIH––a $3 Billion or 7.2% increase over FY2020 to $44.7 Billion
NEI––a $51 Million or 6.2% increase over FY2020 to $875 Million

The vision community thanks Congress for the $2.6 Billion and $27.6 Million funding increases, respectively, for NIH and NEI in FY2020 appropriations. The $11.6 Billion and $148 Million respective NIH and NEI total funding increase in the FY2016-2020 timeframe has helped NIH/NEI to regain lost ground after years of effectively flat budgets.

NAEVR’s request for FY2021 NIH funding at $44.7 Billion allows for meaningful growth above inflation in the base budget to support promising science across all Institutes and Centers; ensures that funding from the Innovation Account established by 21st Century Cures Act would supplement NIH’s base budget, as intended, through dedicated funding for specific programs; and support the next generation of scientists through funding for early-stage investigators.

NAEVR urges Congress to fund the NEI at $875 Million so that the Institute can remain a world leader in sight-saving and vision-restoring research. Despite recent increases, NEI’s FY2020 enacted funding of $824.1 Million is just 21 percent greater than the pre-sequester FY2012 funding of $702 million. Averaged over the eight fiscal years, the 2.6 percent annual growth rate is less than the average annual biomedical inflation rate of 2.8 percent, thereby eroding purchasing power.

FY2021 DOD/VRP Request: $30 Million, an increase of $10 Million over FY2020

In making its request for a $10 Million increase over FY2020 to $30 Million, NAEVR cites a January 2019 Military Medicine journal article based on AEVR’s 2018 Cost of Military Eye Injury study that estimates the cost to the economy from combat-related eye injuries in the 2000-2017 timeframe at $41.5 Billion, with $40.2 Billion of that reflecting present value of a lifetime of benefits, lost wages, and family care. The article is currently available on the journal’s Web site in the Advanced Articles section.   

VRP funding supports research into DOD-identified gaps in knowledge about traumatic eye injury research, including penetrating eye injuries, corneal and retinal injury and protection, and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)-related visual disorders. NAEVR is requesting an increase since the DOD can only fund a fraction of the grants with both scientific merit and program relevance.                  

Since the VRP was created by Congress in FY2009 appropriations as a result of NAEVR advocacy and through FY2018, the DOD has awarded 96 grants totaling $98 Million that address its research gaps.

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.