At this time last year, we noted that you were likely reading this editorial with a new president of the United States having just been elected. It is hard to believe that it has been a year since that time and 10 months since our new president officially took office! There was, and still is, a tremendous amount at stake—in particular, as it relates to healthcare and biomedical research that impacts our patients and practices.
At times, it seems incredibly unclear what our national agenda and priorities are in terms of how they relate to healthcare and biomedical research. While we have seen failed attempts to ignite healthcare reform, the issue still remains one of the most discussed topics on the national scene. And, although there has also been significant discussion about federal funding of biomedical research, both the U.S. House and Senate recently recommended between 3% and 5.5% increases in National Institutes of Health funding. These investments are important to continue to support discovery-based research in prevalent ophthalmic diseases such as dry eye, cataract, and macular degeneration.
While the political climate is likely to remain turbulent, we must remember to stay vigilant regarding potential changes facing our industry and practice settings. These include things like new distribution channels or eyewear (including contact lenses) in addition to online prescribing mechanisms that may attempt to provide virtual eyecare. This is interesting to consider, given that current research initiatives will likely alter in-person eye examinations of the future to allow screening for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and concussion.
And, despite the fact that all of this can sound slightly “doom and gloom,” these concerns are important reminders of how critical it is for us to make sure that we understand the issues at hand. As Yogi Berra said “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.”