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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2017
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR TO HOUSE: INCREASE NIH BY $2 BILLION IN EACH FY2017 AND 2018 TO MAINTAIN SUSTAINED, PREDICTABLE FUNDING

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) submitted written Outside Witness Testimony to the file for the March 8 House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee hearing regarding Fiscal Years (FYs) 2017 and 2018 National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Eye Institute (NEI) funding. Since Congress has not yet finalized FY2017 appropriations—the government is operating under a Continuing Resolution until April 28, 2017—the Alliance’s testimony relates to two fiscal years at this time.

Consistent with its advocacy conducted throughout 2016 and its FY2017/2018 NIH/NEI funding positions, NAEVR’s testimony urges Congress to support the FY2017 $2 billion NIH funding increase to $34.1 billion, as proposed by the Senate Appropriations Committee. This increase to the NIH base—in addition to supplemental funding for specific projects in the 21st Century Cures Act—reflects real growth above biomedical inflation. The Senate-proposed increase funds NEI at $741 million, a $33 million increase over FY2016, to support sight-saving and sight-restoring research. NAEVR also urges Congress to support at least a $2 billion funding increase in FY2018 above that in FY2017—in addition to supplemental funding for specific projects in the 21st Century Cures Act—with NEI funding at $800 million.

NAEVR cites three major studies which issued in FY2016 that provide insight into the burden of eye disease and blindness:

  • A May 2016 JAMA Ophthalmology article in which NEI-funded researchers reported that the number of people with legal blindness will increase by 21 percent each decade to 2 million by 2050, while best-corrected visual impairment will grow by 25 percent each decade, doubling to 6.95 million people—with the greatest burden of visual impairment and blindness affecting those 80 years or older.

  • An August 2016 JAMA Ophthalmology article in which the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR, NAEVR’s educational foundation) reported that a majority of Americans across all racial and ethnic lines describe losing vision as having the greatest impact on their day-to-day life.

  • The September 2016 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM, formerly the Institute of Medicine, IOM) Report entitled Making Eye Health a Population Health Imperative: Vision for Tomorrow which recognized that vision and eye health have not received the investment they warrant with respect to public health. NASEM presented nine recommendations regarding a national strategy for vision loss prevention that made a direct call for government action—especially by the Department of Health and Human Services that would directly engage the NEI—including a “Call to Action” and “Coordinated Public Awareness Campaign” to reduce the burden of vision impairment across the lifespan and promote policies and practices that encourage eye and vision health, as well as the creation of an “Interagency Workgroup” to develop a common research agenda that targets the leading causes, consequences, and unmet needs of vision impairment.
The Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee has set a June 2 date for receipt of written testimony to the file.

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.