Strategic Planning

Since NEI was established over 50 years ago, strategic planning activities have culminated in a series of national plans and workshop reports that identify needs and opportunities in vision research. These planning efforts have relied primarily on the expertise of NEI-funded investigators and the vision community to review the state of the science and describe current research required to advance progress in treating and curing visual disorders and blindness. The last report was published in August 2012: Vision Research: Needs, Gaps, and Opportunities (PDF 2.8 MB). The plan was organized around NEI’s six core program areas: 1) Retinal Diseases; 2) Corneal Diseases; 3) Lens and Cataract; 4) Glaucoma and Optic Neuropathies; 5) Strabismus, Amblyopia, and Visual Processing; 6) Low Vision and Blindness Rehabilitation.

The 2012 NEI planning process also led NEI to launch the Audacious Goals Initiative. AGI started with an ideation challenge competition broadly seeking audacious yet feasible ideas to transform vision care. Following a large strategic planning summit in 2013, NEI announced the audacious goal to restore vision through regeneration of the retina.

2020 Vision for the Future

NEI Strategic Planning is conducted under the auspices of National Eye Advisory Council (Council), with direction from the NEI Director. Council provided concept clearance in 2018 to conduct a cross-cutting NEI Strategic Plan consistent with new requirements in the 21st Century Cures Act (Public Law 114-255). The strategic planning process relies heavily on community input. The current planning process, 2020 Vision for the Future, consists of two phases, an information gathering phase including a public request for information followed by convening expert panels, and an implementation phase. As the first phase of the process is information gathering, subsequent to NEI Director Paul Sieving’s announcement in August 2019 that he was leaving NEI, NAEC endorsed a strategy in October 2019 to proceed with the information gathering phase to capture the recent advances, needs, gaps and opportunities identified by the community. The incoming permanent NEI Director will have this information to work with as he/she continues to shape the strategic planning process and lead the development of the implementation plan according to his/her vision for the NEI.

Information Gathering Phase

NEI is currently hearing from stakeholders including researchers, patients, clinicians, care givers and vision advocates following issuance of a Request for Information on research needs, opportunities, and areas of emphasis for vision research over the next five years. The RFI was open November 15, 2019 through January 9, 2020.

In October 2019, NEI Council endorsed a strategy to organize the plan around cross-cutting Areas of Emphasis. For each Area of Emphasis, NEI is hosting panels composed of experts representing each of NEI’s program areas with the aim of fostering dialogues across traditional vision research disciplines and capitalizing on recent scientific opportunities.


Areas of Emphasis

Visual System in Health and Disease  -  From Genes to Disease Mechanisms  ·         Biology and Neuroscience of Vision  ·         Immune System and Eye Health  Capitalizing on Emerging Fields  -  Regenerative Medicine  - Data Science  Preventing Vision Loss and Enhancing Well-being  - Individual Quality of Life  - Public Health and Disparities Research


For questions about NEI’s strategic planning, please contact:

Office of Program Planning and Analysis
National Eye Institute
31 Center Drive MSC 2510
Bethesda, MD 20892-2510

Last updated: June 2, 2020