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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2007
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR CHALLENGES THE VISION COMMUNITY TO QUANTIFY THE VALUE OF VISION RESEARCH AS PBA RELEASES A NEW STUDY ON THE COSTS OF AGE-RELATED EYE DISEASE


Left to Right: PBA Board members Dr. Paul Lee (Duke University Eye Center) and Joanne Angle (ARVO) join Dr. Dunbar Hoskins (American Academy of Ophthalmology) and Dr. Ryan after his keynote remarks
(Washington, D.C.) Today, in keynote comments at a symposium sponsored by Prevent Blindness America (PBA) to release its new study entitled The Economic Impact of Vision Problems: The Toll of Major Adult Disorders, National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) President Dr. Stephen Ryan (Doheny Eye Institute/University of Southern California) challenged the vision community to use this new study in developing comprehensive cost-effectiveness data on the value of federally funded vision research conducted by the National Eye Institute (NEI) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other government entities.

"With the addition of these useful new data, I ask that the entire vision community work to more fully quantify the value of federal research to deal with the major and growing public health problem of eye disease and vision impairment," said Ryan, who noted that he would seek a NAEVR Board resolution supporting this effort. He emphasized that such data could be used not only to support the community’s goal of adequate federal funding for eye disease research and prevention, but also for timely product approvals, appropriate coverage and payment decisions by public and private insurers, and expanded access to vision health services across all age ranges, especially with preventative eye care practices.

Ryan, who testified on March 27 on behalf of the vision community for increased NEI funding before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee, stated that Congressional leaders want quantitative examples to support the federal investment in medical research. He stressed that, "Our vision community must develop data so that NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni and NEI Director Dr. Paul Sieving have both qualitative and quantitative answers to the question—What has been the return on the $1.20 per-person, per-year investment in the NEI over the past 30 years?—in Congressional testimony."

PBA’s study estimates the direct healthcare and associated indirect costs for age-related macular degeneration (AMD, the leading cause of vision loss), cataract, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, refractive error, vision impairment, and blindness at $51.4 billion annually. These costs comprise the majority of the $68 billion annual cost burden associated with all eye disease and vision impairment, as estimated by the NEI.

The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of 55 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.

Prevent Blindness America (PBA), founded in 1908, is the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight. Focused on promoting a continuum of vision care, PBA touches the lives of millions of people each year through public and professional education, advocacy, certified vision screening and training, and community and patient service programs and research. Visit PBA’s Web site at www.preventblindness.org.