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ARMY Magazine Article Focuses on Military Vision Loss

Legislative Update
March 2, 2015

The February 2015 edition of ARMY Magazine features an article entitled, “Often Overlooked, Vision Loss Plagues Veterans.” In describing the potential long-term vision loss implications of exposure to blast waves or visual dysfunction from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) National Program Director for Ophthalmology Glenn Cockerham, M.D. was joined by retired VA research colleague Greg Goodrich. Ph.D. in stating that:

“[We] are worried that vision loss-which often takes months, if not years, to uncover-could be this generation’s Agent Orange.”
Dr. Cockerham will serve on the faculty of a May 2 session at the 2015 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) 2015 Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, entitled, “Vision and Traumatic Brain Injury in Veterans and Athletes.”

NAEVR has requested that Congress fund the Vision Research Program (VRP) in Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations at $15 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 for extramural research into deployment-related vision trauma which is not conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs, elsewhere within the DOD, or at the National Eye Institute (NEI). In a February 6 letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, respectively, Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) was joined by eleven Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and Military Service Organizations (MSOs) in echoing NAEVR’s request. NAEVR joined the BVA during its recent Legislative Week to visit Congressional offices to advocate for VRP funding.

Since the VRP was created and funded by Congress in FY2009, it has awarded 60 grants totaling $45 million to researchers addressing penetrating eye injuries, corneal healing, retinal/corneal protection, TBI-related visual dysfunction, the eye blast phenomenon, and vision rehabilitation. NAEVR’s 2012 study entitled Costs of Military Eye Injury reported that, based on published data from years 2000-2010, the total incident cost of eye injury each year has been $2.28 billion, yielding a total cost to the economy over this timeframe of $25.10 billion—primarily reflecting the present value of future Social Security benefits, lost wages and family care.