Text: H.Res.366 — 111th Congress (2009-2010)All Bill Information (Except Text)

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Engrossed in House (06/16/2009)

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[Congressional Bills 111th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H. Res. 366 Engrossed in House (EH)]

H. Res. 366

                In the House of Representatives, U. S.,

                                                         June 16, 2009.
Whereas vision impairment and eye disease is a major public health problem, 
        especially due to the aging of the population, a disproportionate 
        incidence of eye disease in minority populations, and vision loss as a 
        result of diabetes and other chronic diseases, which costs the Nation 
        $68,000,000,000 annually in health care costs, lost productivity, 
        reduced independence, diminished quality of life, increased depression, 
        and accelerated mortality;
Whereas 38,000,000 people in the United States age 40-plus currently experience 
        blindness, low-vision, or an age-related eye disease, and this number is 
        expected to grow to 50,000,000 by 2020, a year mid-way in the tidal wave 
        of 78,000,000 baby boomers who will begin turning age 65 in 2010, and 
        many of whom will continue working well beyond age 65;
Whereas, in public opinion polls over the past 40 years, people in the United 
        States have consistently identified fear of vision loss as second only 
        to fear of cancer and, as recently as a 2008 NEI study, 71 percent of 
        respondents indicated that a loss of their eyesight would have the 
        greatest impact on their life;
Whereas, with wisdom and foresight, Congress passed the National Eye Institute 
        (NEI) Act (Public Law 90-489), which was signed into law by President 
        Johnson on August 16, 1968, with the NEI holding the first meeting of 
        its National Advisory Eye Council (NAEC) on April 3, 1969;
Whereas the NEI leads the Nation's Federal commitment to basic and clinical 
        research, research training, and other programs with respect to blinding 
        eye diseases, visual disorders, mechanisms of visual function, 
        preservation of sight and the special health problems and needs of 
        individuals who are visually-impaired or blind, and to disseminate 
        information aimed at the prevention of blindness, specifically with 
        public and professional education facilitated through its National Eye 
        Health Education Program (NEHEP);
Whereas the NEI maximizes Federal funding by devoting 85 percent of its budget 
        to extramural research that addresses the breadth of eye and vision 
        disorders, including ``back of the eye'' retinal and optic nerve 
        disease, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, and 
        diabetic retinopathy, and concomitant low vision, and ``front of the 
        eye'' disease, including corneal, lens, cataract, and refractive errors;
Whereas the NEI research benefits children, including premature infants born 
        with retinopathy and school children with amblyopia (``lazy eye'');
Whereas the NEI benefits older citizens in the United States by predicting, 
        preventing, and preempting aging eye disease, thereby enabling more 
        productive lives and reducing Medicare costs;
Whereas the NEI has been a leader in basic research, working with the NIH's 
        Human Genome Project to translate discoveries of genes related to eye 
        disease and vision impairment, which comprises one quarter of genes 
        discovered to date, into diagnostic and treatment modalities;
Whereas the NEI has been a leader in clinical research, funding more than 60 
        clinical trials, including a series of Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical 
        Trials Networks, in association with the National Institute for Diabetes 
        and Digestive and Kidney Disorders (NIDDK), which have developed 
        treatment strategies that have been determined by the NEI to be 90 
        percent effective and save an estimated $1,600,000,000 per year in 
        blindness and vision impairment disability costs;
Whereas the NEI has been a leader in prevention research, having reported from 
        the first phase of its Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) that high 
        levels of dietary zinc and anti-oxidant vitamins reduced vision loss in 
        individuals at high risk for developing advanced AMD by a magnitude of 
        25 percent, and in its second phase, is now studying the impact of other 
        nutritional supplements;
Whereas the NEI has been a leader in epidemiologic research, identifying the 
        basis and progression of eye disease and its disproportionate incidence 
        in minority populations such that informed public health policy 
        decisions can be made regarding prevention, early diagnosis, and 
Whereas the NEI has been a leader in collaborative, trans-NIH Institute 
        research, working with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the 
        National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) on factors that 
        promote or inhibit new blood vessel growth that has resulted in the 
        first generation of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved 
        ophthalmic drugs to inhibit abnormal blood vessel growth in the ``wet'' 
        form of AMD, thereby stabilizing and often restoring vision;
Whereas the NEI has been a leader in collaborative research with other Federal 
        entities, such that its bioengineering research partnership with the 
        National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy has resulted in 
        a retinal chip implant, referred to as the ``Bionic Eye'', that has 
        enabled individuals who have been blind for decades to perceive visual 
Whereas the NEI has been a leader in collaborative research with private funding 
        entities, such that its human gene therapy trial with the Foundation 
        Fighting Blindness for individuals with Leber Congenital Amaurosis 
        (LCA), a rapid retinal degeneration that blinds infants in their first 
        year of life, has demonstrated measurable vision improvement even within 
        the initial safety trials;
Whereas in the decade 2010 through 2020, the Nation will face unprecedented 
        public health challenges associated with aging, health disparities, and 
        chronic disease; and
Whereas Federal support at the NEI and related Department of Health and Human 
        Services agencies is essential for the prevention and early detection, 
        access to treatment and rehabilitation, and research associated with 
        vision impairment and eye disease: Now, therefore, be it
    Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
            (1) recognizes the 40th anniversary of the National Eye Institute 
        (NEI), commends it for its leadership, and supports its mission to 
        prevent blindness and to save and restore vision;
            (2) supports the designation of the ``Decade of Vision'' to maintain 
        a sustained awareness in the next decade of the unprecedented public 
        health challenges associated with vision impairment and eye disease and 
        to emphasize the need for Federal support for prevention and early 
        detection, access to treatment and rehabilitation, and research; and
            (3) commends the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research 
        (NAEVR), which serves as the ``Friends of the National Eye Institute'', 
        for its efforts to expand awareness of the incidence and economic burden 
        of eye disease through its Decade of Vision 2010-2020 Initiative.