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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 5, 2005
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR Brings Eye and Vision Focus to a Meeting of Maryland Delegates to the  White House Conference on Aging

Patricia Bayliss, Secretary of Aging Jean Roesser, Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, Dr. Michael Gloth and NAEVR’s James Jorkasky

(Rockville, MD) - National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) Executive Director James Jorkasky met today with other at-large and state delegates from Maryland to discuss the needs of the state’s aging population as they prepare to participate in next week’s White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA). With approximately 78 million baby boomers beginning to turn 60 in 2006 and the number of Maryland’s baby boomers set to double by 2030, caring for an aging population has both national and local significance.

This prestigious conference, held every ten years, will be the forum where 1,200 delegates from across the country will vote on resolutions and develop implementation strategies to present to the President and Congress to help guide national aging policies. The 2005 WHCoA will be the fifth in its history.

 “The purpose of today’s meeting was to discuss the resolutions that will be presented at the Conference and ensure that Maryland’s concerns are reflected,” said Jorkasky, who added that, “and I voiced NAEVR’s concerns about vision issues as they relate to the aging population.” In advocating for greater federal funding for eye and vision research conducted at the National Eye Institute (NEI) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NAEVR has emphasized that vision impairment and eye disease are a major public health problem, growing ever larger due to an aging population. Treatments and therapies emerging from NEI-funded research can stabilize vision loss, restore it or prevent the onset of eye disease.

NEI estimates that more than 50 million Americans are expected to experience blindness, low vision or age-related eye disease by 2020. Currently, 38 million Americans age 40 and older experience these conditions. NEI also estimates that the current annual cost to the United States from vision impairment and eye disease is $68 billion, but this figure does not fully quantify the impact of direct healthcare costs, loss of productivity, reduced independence, diminished quality of life, increased depression and accelerated mortality associated with these conditions.

In conjunction with the vision community, NAEVR supports resolutions that facilitate expanded research into age-related eye diseases; affiliated screening, treatment and prevention programs; and access to care. NAEVR also supports the development of assistive and adaptive technologies that facilitate independence for those with vision impairment, improving their productivity and quality of life.       

This preparatory session was hosted by Maryland Secretary of Aging Jean Roesser. Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele provided his insights to delegates and noted that, “Baby boomers will want to live the next 20-plus years of their lives as they have lived the past 20 years, with choice, independence and dignity.” Steele anticipated that the resolutions adopted would reflect those considerations.

A total of 75 resolutions will be considered in six areas: Planning Along the Lifespan; The Workplace of the Future; Our Community; Health and Long-Term Living; Civic and Social Engagement; and Technology and Innovation in an Emerging Senior/Boomer Marketplace. The delegates will select 50 for implementation strategies, with 10 identified for priority national action. 

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