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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 2, 2007
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
240-221-2905
jamesj@eyeresearch.org

NAEVR CHARACTERIZES NEI-FUNDED CHILDREN’s VISION RESEARCH IN TERMS OF OVERALL NIH GOALS

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) released a list of attributes of National Eye Institute (NEI)-funded children’s vision research that exemplify overall National Institutes of Health (NIH) goals for research. The list represents introductory comments at the June 28 Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR) Congressional Briefing on Children’s Vision Research made by Executive Director James Jorkasky, at which NEI-funded researchers described pediatric vision research that ranges from evaluating populations and the tools to measure and diagnose eye disease to treatments and the associated tools necessary to evaluate those treatment outcomes.

"Most of the NEI-funded research into the diagnosis and treatment of vision impairment and eye disease in children would not have happened without the NIH budget-doubling that occurred from Fiscal Year 1998-2003," said Jorkasky, who added that the renewal of several major studies depends on adequate future funding currently being considered by Congress. Although noting primarily that NEI-funded research represents the 21st century paradigm for research as defined by NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni—specifically, that which is preemptive/preventive, predictive, personalized and participatory—Jorkasky said that it also reflects:

  • Basic research that is rapidly translated into clinical practice, especially through NEI’s nationwide networks of community and university-based ophthalmic and optometric professionals with access to thousands of patients in “real life” settings;


  • Gene-based studies to research the basis of disease and ways to preempt its onset;


  • Recruitment of multi-ethnic patients to determine disparities in incidence and treatment outcomes;


  • "Harmonization" to other studies with similar methodologies to maximize the use of data measurements and treatment outcomes; and


  • Collaboration between NIH Institutes and Centers.

At the AEVR briefing, the researchers discussed the recently released NEI-funded study that demonstrated in mice a protective effect against retinal disease by omega-3 fatty acids. Since retinopathy in the mouse shares many characteristics of Retinopathy of Prematurity ROP) in humans—a disease of premature infants in which blood vessels proliferate in the retina, leading to bleeding, scarring, and potential blindness—NEI will fund a clinical trial to test the effects of the omega-3 supplements in premature infants. This research is funded by the NEI and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

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.