Newswise — Rockville, Md. -- The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) urges Congressional leaders to reject the U.S. administration’s recent FY18 budget proposal, which seeks to drastically cut National Institute of Health funding by nearly $6 billion, or 20%. These cuts would be devastating to the current and future efforts of the eye and vision research community and to patients who desperately count on the efforts of researchers and clinicians to save their sight.

In the U.S., over 23 million adults have significant vision loss. Eye disorders are the fifth leading chronic condition among those aged 65 years and over, and vision impairment is associated with increased mortality. Among children, eye disorders are the third most prevalent chronic condition.i

The Administration’s proposal would severely slow or even halt progress on research to find treatments and cures for Americans suffering from eye disease and disorders. In addition to the stark consequences for patients and families, these cuts threaten the careers of a generation of young researchers, the industries developing and bringing sight-saving treatments and devices to patients who need them, and the U.S. economy.

As the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research noted, “ ... by supporting research at universities, medical schools, teaching hospitals, and other institutions across the country, NIH also has fueled local and regional economies by creating jobs and catalyzing new industries. For decades, the federal commitment to scientific discovery has strengthened our country’s competitiveness in a global market that is actively working to unseat the U.S. as the world’s leader in medical research.” ARVO firmly believes that the future of vision research in this country depends upon the investments that are made today.

ARVO stands with other biomedical research societies in urging Congress to reject any cuts to NIH and continue its tradition of bipartisan support for investing in medical science. ARVO stands behind the proposed FY17 package of $34.1 billion for NIH, which represents a $2 billion increase over current funding and includes $800 million for the National Eye Institute, as well as continued support for the National Science Foundation.

____________________________________________iRobert Wood Johnson Foundation (2010). Chronic Care: Making the Case for Ongoing Care. Princeton, N.J.

The Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology (ARVO) is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include nearly 11,000 eye and vision researchers from over 75 countries. ARVO advances research worldwide into understanding the visual system and preventing, treating and curing its disorders.