Bill Introduced in Congress to Create ‘Eye Bonds’ for Supporting Eye Disease Research

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Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. (l) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

WASHINGTON—U.S. Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr., a Georgia Democrat, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who represents eastern Washington state, recently introduced the “Faster Treatments and Cures for Eye Diseases Act (HR 2620).  The bill supports funding for translational research and advances treatments and cures for blindness and other eye conditions. It also lays the groundwork for a new financial instrument, Eye Bonds, that are intended to speed treatments and cures across the spectrum of eye diseases and disabilities, according to a statement on Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ website.

Rep. Bishop also was part of a group of legislators who introduced a similar bill in the U.S. House a year ago, as VMAIL reported.

The Faster Treatments and Cures for Eye Diseases Act would establish a five-year pilot program to create unique financial instruments called Eye Bonds. These bonds would finance packages of loans for projects at small labs, universities and other research centers. They have the potential to mobilize as much as $1 billion in research funding by incentivizing private investment backed by a limited federal guarantee, the statement noted.

The Faster Treatments and Cures for Eye Diseases Act is supported by the Foundation Fighting Blindness, National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, Blinded Veterans of America, and numerous other vision and biomedical-research groups.

“America has led the world in medical innovation, and in order for us to continue to find cures and breakthroughs, we need innovative approaches to research,” Rep. McMorris Rodgers said in the announcement. “This legislation will create unique financial institutions to help support projects at small labs, universities, and other research centers. I’m proud to lead on this legislation with Rep. Bishop so we can continue to find lifesaving solutions.”

Rep. Bishop noted that the proposed Eye Bonds would fund research that has the potential to deliver new treatments for a range of conditions, including macular degeneration, glaucoma, blindness caused by diabetes and sickle cell disease, and many others.

In the U.S., there are more than 4 million adults and almost half-a-million children who are blind or have severely impaired vision. Projects supported by Eye Bonds would further research for treatments and cures for a wide range of vision-related conditions, including glaucoma and sickle-cell anemia retinopathy, the announcement stated.