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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2015
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR TO SENATE: INCREASE NEI FUNDING, AS AMERCIANS FEAR VISION LOSS, WHICH IS A GROWING PUBLIC HEALTH PROBLEM

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) submitted written testimony to the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee regarding Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Eye Institute (NEI) funding.

In requesting NIH funding of at least $32 billion and NEI funding of $730 million, NAEVR urged the Senate to waive NIH from sequester cuts and Budget Control Act caps. NAEVR also asked that the Senate improve upon the Presidentís budget proposal to fund NIH at $31.3 billion.

NAEVRís request would enable at least a 5 percent increase in the NIH budget, reflecting both modest growth and an inflationary increase. For the NEI, it would fully restore the $36 million in FY2013 sequester cuts and enable both modest growth and an inflationary increase. As of FY2015, NEI funding is still down $25 million from its pre-sequester FY2012 funding level of $702 million, which is the equivalent of 60 grants—any one of which may have held the promise to save and restore vision. The NEI has lost 25 percent of its purchasing power since FY2003.

After its initial request in the testimony, NAEVR focused its content on the fact that Americans fear vision loss and that it is a growing public health problem. NAEVR cites the compelling results from the Alliance for Eye and Vision Researchís (AEVR) September 2014 poll entitled The Publicís Attitudes about the Health and Economic Impact of Vision Loss and Eye Disease that was commissioned by Research!America from Zogby Analytics and sponsored by a grant from Research to Prevent Blindness. The poll, the most rigorous conducted to-date of attitudes about vision and vision loss among ethnic and racial groups, found that a majority of Americans describe losing vision as potentially having the greatest impact on their day-to-day life.

NAEVR also cited the June 2014 Prevent Blindness study that estimated the annual cost of vision disorders at $145 billion, which will grow to $717 billion annually by 2050, in inflation-adjusted dollars.

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.