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July 18, 2005
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director

NAEVR Commends Senate LHHS Appropriators for Billion Dollar Increase in FY2006 NIH Funding

(Washington, DC) Today, National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) President Stephen Ryan, M.D., sent letters commending Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) for their leadership in shepherding a Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) Appropriations spending bill that includes a $1 billion dollar increase over FY2005 for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The bill, which was marked up by the LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee on July 12 and approved by the full Senate Appropriations Committee on July 14, also recommends a $24 million increase over FY2005 for the National Eye Institute (NEI). The bill has been sent to the Senate floor, with action expected after the August recess.

In commenting on the bill's increase for NEI funding, Dr. Ryan acknowledged that, "The NEI recently identified genes associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss in older Americans. Additional funding can fast-track research into potential therapies for and prevention of this debilitating condition for our seniors."

Vision loss and eye disease is a major public health problem. Currently, 38 million Americans age 40+ experience blindness, low vision or an age-related eye disease, and this number is expected to grow to 50 million by year 2020. Age-related eye disease not only accounts for a significant portion of the $68 billion annual cost of vision impairment and eye disease to the United States, but also robs seniors of their independence and diminishes their quality of life.

The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of 44 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