NAEVR Supports “Eye Bonds” Legislation to Advance Treatments for Blindness and Vision Impairment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2018
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
[email protected]

NAEVR SUPPORTS EYE BONDS LEGISLATION TO ADVANCE TREATMENTS FOR BLINDNESS AND VISION IMPAIRMENT

(Washington, D.C.) On July 18, Bipartisan cosponsors in the House introduced The Faster Treatments and Cures for Eye Diseases Act, H.R. 6421. This legislation allows for the creation of Eye Bonds to finance packages of loans that would total $1 billion for new projects over four years in the pilot phase. Underwriters would determine how many projects they would fund and at what amount, not to exceed $250 million in any year. The Eye Bonds are focused on translational research, meaning promising research from bench to bedside for all aspects of vision, including retinal diseases, cornea and optic nerve conditions, glaucoma, and eye injuries experienced by wounded veterans. The National Eye Institute (NEI) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would investigate and evaluate programs eligible for funding, although NIH would have no risk related to funding these projects.

Prior to introduction and on July 10, NAEVR President Peter McDonnell, MD sent a letter to the four Cosponsors Cong. Pete Sessions (R-TX), Cong. Fred Upton (R-MI), Cong. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Cong. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) expressing strong support for the legislation and recognizing their leadership role stating,

"We commend each of you as Cosponsors for having the vision to create a new approach to making private eye and vision research funding dollars available that can result in new therapies to ensure the vision health of all Americans, thereby enabling productive, independent, and quality lives."”

In describing the importance of funding for vison research, NAEVR cited the 2016 JAMA Ophthalmology article, based on AEVR's 2014 attitudinal survey about vision loss conducted with Research! America through a grant by Research to Prevent Blindness, that a majority of Americans across racial and ethnic lines describe losing vision as having the greatest impact on day-to-day life. NAEVR also noted other studies that show that some individuals are even willing to trade years of remaining life to regain perfect vision.

NAEVR is pleased to be working with the Foundation Fighting Blindness and other vision community partners in actively supporting the legislation, including recruiting additional cosponsors and urging support during upcoming Capitol Hill Advocacy Days, including September 28 visits by Emerging Vision Scientists (EVS) as part of the Fourth Annual EVS Day on Capitol Hill.

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.