The National Eye Institute was established by Congress in 1968 to protect and extend the eyesight of Americans. The National Eye Institute (NEI) has been on the front lines of vision research for more than 50 years and will continue to support cutting-edge research programs investigating new ways to prevent, treat, and even reverse vision loss. In the course of its research, NEI is also working to help the public understand vision problems and how to keep their eyes healthy, giving more insight into how the visual system -- from the eyes to the brain -- plays a role in health and disease.
NEI supports vision research through approximately 2,100 research grants and training awards to scientists at more than 150 medical centers, universities and other institutions across the country and around the world. NEI will also conduct patient-oriented research using laboratories on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.
With the continued support of Congress and the public, NEI has made significant advances in the prevention and treatment of eye diseases and vision disorders, including: preventing and reversing vision loss, understanding and treating rare eye diseases, developing new treatments and technologies, and disseminating information about eye health.
According to NEI, many eye diseases irreversibly damage nerve cells in the retina, which detects light and sends signals to the brain. Often, the damage results in permanent vision loss or blindness. Thus, NEI AGI is coordinating the development of therapeutics for retinal regeneration and its connection to the brain.
In addition, NEI is also trying other treatments: testing stem cell therapy for AMD to see if replacing damaged tissue in the retina with cells from the patient's own skin can prevent or restore vision loss; Developing gene-based therapies to try to treat a variety of inherited eye disorders, and while some therapies to replace faulty genes have entered clinical trials, researchers are also exploring ways to repair genes.