Research to Prevent Blindness

New Poll Places Fear of Vision Loss at the Top of Americans’ Health Concerns

"The findings send a clear message," says Brian F. Hofland, PhD, RPB President. "We – meaning 'we the people of the United States' -- need to fund more eye research. More and more baby boomers are losing their sight and struggling to maintain their independence. At the same time, the budget at the National Eye Institute is shrinking, just as science is making dramatic strides toward reversing or preventing devastating eye diseases. We cannot afford to take our collective, financial foot off of the gas pedal of vision research." In funding the poll, RPB reprised a role it has played several times since 1965. "Research to Prevent Blindness serves as a catalyst within the vision research community," says Hofland. "By supporting attitudinal research and the organizations that have expertise in conducting it we help to create awareness that the American people both want and need accelerated funding for eye research." Hofland also noted, "In addition, RPB has driven the creation of departments of ophthalmology, helped build major vision research centers, led the initiative to create the National Eye Institute and we have always funded eye research."

Hofland continues: "Prevention of blindness and the restoration of sight requires a group effort. The government and private philanthropy play significant parts in funding the researchers who discover treatments and cures. But people need to learn about their risks for eye disorders, make lifestyle changes that can minimize those risks, and actively support the eye research community by expressing their concerns to elected officials and contributing to effective philanthropies."

We can now give hope to patients who previously had no hope. Although the federal investment in the NEI provides seed funding for potential breakthroughs, we need private philanthropy and industry to invest and enable those opportunities to 'explode' into exciting new therapies for patients.

James Tsai, M.D., President New York Eye and Ear Infirmary /Chair, Ophthalmology, Mount Sinai Health System (an RPB grantee institution)

RPB provided critical financial support for the most comprehensive survey of Americans' attitudes on vision loss ever undertaken. The poll, commissioned by Research!America and also supported by the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, showed that Americans across all ethnic groups fear loss of sight more than loss of any other sense or loss of limb, that they want more government support of vision research, and that there are serious gaps in knowledge about modifiable risk factors that contribute to eye disease.

Download a vision loss fact sheet

The Vision Loss Fact Sheet was supported by RPB and created by Research!America.

Download poll results.


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