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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 20, 2015
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR, VSOs/MSOs Request $15 Million for Vision Trauma Research in FY2016 Defense Appropriations

(Washington, D.C.) Today, NAEVR member Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) released a letter it has sent to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, respectively, requesting $15 million in funding for the Vision Research Program (VRP) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations.

The February 6 letter—which supports NAEVR’s legislative request—was signed by eleven Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and Military Service Organizations (MSOs), in addition to BVA, including: Paralyzed Veterans of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart USA, Inc., Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Jewish War Veterans of the USA, the National Association of Uniformed Services, AMVETS, Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America, Military Officers Association of America, and the Association of the United States Navy. Combined, the groups represent over 5 million veterans.

The letter reiterates many of the points made in NAEVR’s legislative request for this extramural funding for research into deployment-related vision trauma which is not conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), elsewhere within the DOD, or at the National Eye Institute (NEI). The letter also cites NAEVR’s 2012 study entitled Costs of Military Eye Injury which 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.

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, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)-related visual dysfunction, the eye blast phenomenon, and vision rehabilitation. NAEVR emphasizes that research projects funded in the first two VRP cycles have resulted in 80 published papers that are advancing knowledge about the diagnosis and treatment of eye trauma injuries. NAEVR also presents examples of new technologies being developed for battlefield application, including a hand-held device to analyze the pupil’s reaction to light, enabling rapid diagnosis of TBI-related visual dysfunction, as well as an “ocular patch” that seals lacerations and perforations, protecting the eye while a soldier is transported to a medical facility with trained ocular surgeons.

The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a 501(c)4 non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of 55 professional, consumer, and industry organizations involved in eye and vision research. Visit the Web site at www.eyeresearch.org.