Nothing Is Certain...Except the Need for More Funding
BY JASON J. NICHOLS, OD, MPH, PHD, FAAO
As I write this editorial, we are currently reaching the closure of the U.S. Federal Tax season—something none of us enjoy per se, but it is important to note that federally funded biomedical research would not occur without this revenue source. At this point, you might be asking, “what does this have to do with contact lenses?”
It goes without saying that fundamental biomedical research on diseases (of the eye and beyond) is the basis for the development of new and novel treatments that impact our patients and practices. And, from my perspective, contact lenses are very much a part of this, both in terms of current uses (vision correction) and in terms of future potential uses as health-status monitoring medical devices and for treating disease (e.g., glaucoma).
In the United States, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeing its first substantial increase in years ($2 billion). As I understand it, this is only the third time since 2003 that the NIH budget increased more than the costs of research. The budgetary increases are, in part, going to help support keys areas such as Alzheimer’s disease research, the Precision Medicine Initiative, the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, and to help fight antibiotic-resistent bacteria. Hopefully, we will also continue to see increases in the support of eye and vision research, as the National Eye Institute received an 18% increase in its fiscal year 2016 budget.
As we look forward in our contact lens (and general) practices, I am confident that one day these investments will undoubtedly benefit our patients’ eye and visual system health. In what areas do you think future monies should be focused?