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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2005
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

ARVO President Dr. Gary Abrams Requests Increased FY2006 Funding for the National Eye Institute at House "Public Witness" Hearing

(Washington, DC) Today, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) President Dr. Gary Abrams testified at the House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee's "Public Witness" hearing in support of increased funding in the federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 budget for the National Eye Institute (NEI) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). On behalf of ARVO, Dr. Abrams requested FY2006 NEI funding at $711 million and NIH funding at $30 billion, a six percent increase over FY2005 for each. The President's FY2006 budget proposes NEI and NIH funding increases at less than one percent over FY2005.

"NEI research into the fundamental causes of eye disease is more critical now than ever as vision impairment and eye disease is a major public health problem growing larger due to an aging population, minority populations disproportionately affected by eye disease, and co-morbidities of disease, such as diabetic retinopathy," said Abrams. "Age-related eye diseases currently affect more than 35 million Americans age 40 and older, and the annual economic burden to the United States is now $68 billion for healthcare costs and lost productivity, which does not even begin to quantify societal costs associated with lost independence and a diminished quality of life."

Abrams added that vision research is on the cutting edge of scientific discovery. "As the entire medical research community gains a better understanding of the basis of disease, the eye emerges as a unique biological system in which to conduct genetic, neuroscience and cellular mechanism research. Just last month, NEI-sponsored researchers announced the discovery of a gene strongly associated with a person's risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss in older Americans." He noted that this could lead to early diagnosis and treatment for the disease.

Abrams concluded by emphasizing that the requested FY2006 funding increases for NEI and NIH will "maintain the momentum of medical research discovery and help to ensure the health, and vision health, of all Americans."

Abrams is The David Barsky, M.D. Endowed Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Director of the Kresge Eye Institute at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan. He is a practicing ophthalmologist and researcher.

Established in 1928, ARVO is a membership organization of more than 11,200 eye and vision researchers from over 70 countries. The Association encourages and assists its members and others in research, training, publication and dissemination of knowledge in vision and ophthalmology. Visit ARVO's Web site at www.arvo.org

ARVO is a founding member of the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR), a non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of nearly 50 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.