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NEI unveils “Vision for the Future”

New strategic plan addresses emerging themes in eye and vision research
November 1, 2021

The National Eye Institute has released a new strategic plan. 2021 Vision for the Future charts the next five years of NEI’s mission: to eliminate vision loss and improve quality of life through vision research. 

“NEI’s strategic plan builds upon the past decade’s major advances in regenerative medicine, genetics, artificial intelligence, personalized medicine, gene therapy, imaging, and more. It identifies research opportunities that may ultimately lead to improved quality of life and population health,” said NEI Director Michael F. Chiang, M.D. 

NEI’s core research programs center on six areas that broadly align with eye anatomy and function. To capitalize on the rapidly changing face of biomedical research, the strategic plan is organized around seven areas of emphasis that intersect with these core program areas. Panels comprising more than 150 researchers, clinicians, advocacy group members, and others considered each area of emphasis, highlighting research gaps and opportunities that will accelerate research across the core programs. Building on this framework, NEI will support investigator-initiated grants and training programs, as well as special programs that foster collaboration, such as the Audacious Goals Initiative and the Anterior Segment Initiative.

7 cross-cutting areas of emphasis: From Genes to Disease Mechanisms; Biology and Neuroscience of Vision; Immune System and Eye Health; Regenerative Medicine; Data Science; Individual Quality of Life; and Public Health and Disparities Research. They intersect with each of NEI’s six core programs: Retinal Diseases; Corneal Diseases; Lens and Cataract; Glaucoma and Optic Neuropathies; Strabismus, Amblyopia, and Visual Processing; and Low Vision and Blindness Rehab

In its final form, the new strategic plan identifies emerging opportunities across the areas of emphasis to drive innovation, inspire the next generation of vision researchers, and translate knowledge into medicine. Moving forward, trans-NEI working groups focused on implementing plan priorities are designing initiatives, targeted funding opportunities, training, workshops, and more. 



NEI leads the federal government’s research on the visual system and eye diseases. NEI supports basic and clinical science programs to develop sight-saving treatments and address special needs of people with vision loss. For more information, visit

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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Lesley Earl or Claudia Costabile