Lack of Funding for Eye and Brain Diseases


Pranavi Vuppala, Journalist

We have all heard of Alzheimer’s, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or even Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) (most commonly known as sociopathy). But how about Duane Syndrome? Neuroblastoma? Frontotemporal dementia? All of these words are actual diseases and are not made up. The reason we tend to know about particular diseases rather than others is due to the lack of funding in regards to their research efforts. To clarify the broad scope of eye and brain diseases, it includes cancers, diseases, illnesses, mental health, etc. Although we might not know exactly what all of them are, it does not mean that we should avoid researching their causes and bodily effects. 


According to George McNamara, director of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), the lack of funding for optical and mental research is due to pushing a larger amount of money into cancers and broader diseases rather than what scientists call a “neglected disease.”  The article also states that funding has been slower and harder to receive because of the focus on “long-term conditions” such as a stroke. 


According to an article printed on Cision PRWeb, the scope for healthcare researchers to experiment in order to discover cures, or establish more important info about a certain disease has significantly decreased, with a lack of funding. To specify, the mental health issues of Americans have increased leading to “more than half of Americans (56%) seeking help.” A study presented by the Cohen Veterans Network and National Council on Behavioral Health shows that there are many reasons why these people don’t end up reaching out for help, including: high cost and insufficient insurance coverage, limited options and long waits, lack of awareness, social stigma. However, when diving deeper into the subject, the lack of funding leads to the lack of money to buy the necessary equipment to experiment and discover information including antidotes, cures, or even symptoms of a disease.


So why might there be a lack of funding in neglected diseases and where might all the money go? According to the NIH Categorical Spending -NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT), about $577 million are dedicated to Alcoholism, Alcohol Use and Health as of 2020, whereas only $240 million are dedicated to Anxiety Disorders. Data from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation shows that though it may not seem as important or big as any other acclaimed disease like cancer, the amount of people that suffer from anxiety, a psychological condition, is around 19% of just the adult population has been diagnosed with some sort of anxiety within the past year. As a solution, it would be immensely suggested that if there are extra funds that reside within organizations that do not use up their full amount of fundings, be donated to research organizations that desperately are in need, but lack funds.


Another reason funds have started cutting down is because of the coronavirus disease. According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the funds for the virus given just to Arizona was $36 million as of today. The chart by NIH however shows that the funding for Anxiety Disorders to the country totaled up to $233 million in 2019, but has significantly decreased to about $220 million for funding in 2021. According to the Cohen Veterans Network (CVN),  it was seen to be cut from the research of eye and brain diseases as the funding for “treating mental health issues”  has been cut down to help fund for the covid research toward the vaccine . This data was confirmed by research conducted by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.


All of this matters because the awareness of the cause includes understanding the struggle of people who live most of their lives not knowing what happened or what is happening inside their bodies. Researchers and scientists truly lack funds for researching conditions of people’s health and are not able to come up with answers. Statistics show the lack of people getting as much help as they can due to improper research, but a donation to an organization, or even an understanding and spreading awareness of a certain situation can create long term help for patients. So next time someone brings up a disease you might not be aware of, remember that there is always a reason why the research is not fully funded for.