Testified Before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 27, 2007
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
[email protected]

VISION RESEARCHERS URGE FY2008 NIH AND NEI FUNDING INCREASES IN HOUSE TESTIMONY

Dr. Stephen Ryan Testifies before the House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee
Dr. Stephen Ryan testifies before the House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee

(Washington, D.C.) Today, in public witness testimony before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee, representatives from the vision research community urged an increase in Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 appropriations for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Eye Institute (NEI) of $31 billion and $711 million, respectively, which is a 6.7 percent increase over FY2006.

Dr. Stephen Ryan, President of the Doheny Eye Institute at the University of Southern California and President of the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR), presented testimony on behalf of NAEVR’s 55 member organizations. Dr. Karla Zadnik, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies at the Ohio State University College of Optometry, spoke on behalf of the American Optometric Association (AOA).

Dr. Stephen Ryan and Dr. Karla Zadnik
Dr. Stephen Ryan and Dr. Karla Zadnik

Dr. Zadnik, who testified first, stated that vision impairment and eye disease is a major public health problem that is growing and disproportionately affects the aged and minority populations, requiring an adequate investment in the NEI to meet this challenge. Although the NEI estimates that the current cost of vision impairment and eye disease to the United States is $68 billion annually, this number does not fully quantify the impact of direct healthcare costs, lost productivity, reduced independence, diminished quality of life, increased depression, and accelerated mortality,” stated Dr. Zadnik, who concluded by summarizing recent NEI research into children’s vision health.

Dr. Ryan stated that NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni often cites NEI-funded research as an example of the new paradigm for research/clinical practice for the 21st century-specifically, that which is preemptive, predictive, preventive, and personalized. He provided relevant examples of NEI’s collaborative, breakthrough research into retinal diseases, including the identification of gene variants associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD, the leading cause of blindness) and the first generation of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved ophthalmic drugs to treat the “wet” form of AMD, which are now in clinical trials for treatment of macular edema associated with diabetic retinopathy. “Without adequate funding, NEI will miss the opportunity to exploit these breakthroughs, and the power of this research will not be fully realized to the benefit of Americans with blinding eye disease,” Dr. Ryan concluded.

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.