Eye On the Cure Research News

May 9, 2019

Eye Bonds Re-Introduced to New Congress: Potentially $1 Billion in Government-Backed Funding for Eye Research

Eye Bonds provide the opportunity to advance, and accelerate development for, more promising treatments into and through clinical trials and out to the people who need them.

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In July 2018, the Faster Treatments and Cures for Eye Diseases Act was introduced into the US House of Representatives. The legislation, also known as Eye Bonds, if enacted, would lead to $1 billion over five years for critical, translational research funding for the entire eye, including the retina.

With the convening of the new Congress in January 2019, the bill was recently re-introduced in the House as HR 2620, the Faster Treatments and Cures for Eye Diseases Act. This re-introduction was a normal part of the legislative process. Nothing about the legislation itself has changed.

The Foundation Fighting Blindness has been a driving force in gaining bipartisan support for this sight-saving legislation. There is strong momentum behind the new Eye Bonds legislation; nearly two dozen House Members co-sponsored last year’s bill.

With the new legislation, our lead original co-sponsors are Representatives Sanford Bishop, a Democrat from Georgia’s 2nd district, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Washington’s 5th district. The other original co-sponsors are: Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ1), Brad Schneider (D-IL10), Steve Cohen (D-TN9), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL12), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA1).

To ask the House Member in your district to support HR2620, visit Find Your Representative. Either a phone call or e-mail will work well. Let your Member know your name, where you live, and why the sight-saving legislation is important to you. You can also mention that Eye Bonds have bipartisan support and will not increase the taxpayer burden.

Eye Bonds are the vision, and many years of hard work, of Karen and Basil Petrou. Karen is a long-time Foundation board director, and she and her husband run a government financial consulting firm known as Federal Financial Analytics.

Why Eye-Bonds? Many promising therapies never make it through the translational research process — out of labs and into clinical trials — because of a lack of funding; translational research is often referred to as “crossing the Valley of Death” for this reason. Pharmaceutical companies and biotechs don’t fund translational research; they only fund projects once they have had some initial success in a clinical trial.

The bottom line: Eye Bonds provide the opportunity to advance, and accelerate development for, more promising treatments into and through clinical trials and out to the people who need them.

Eye Bonds is a pilot program. If it succeeds, the model could be used to advance translational research for other conditions and diseases.