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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the National Eye Institute?

The National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is the Federal government's lead agency for vision research. The NIH is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

How do I get permission to use information on the NEI Website?

You are welcome to use information from our website. All information on the NEI Website is published under public domain and is not copyright protected. However, we do ask that credit be given to the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health (NEI/NIH).

How do I get permission to use the images on the NEI Website?

Graphics on the National Eye Institute's website are not copyrighted and may be reproduced without permission. However, we do ask that credit be given to the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health (NEI/NIH), unless specified otherwise.

How do I request that NEI link to my website?

You are welcome to link to our website. However, at this time, our policy only allows us to link to other Federal government agencies and selected NEI grantees and voluntary organizations.

Where can I find out about NEI employment and training opportunities?

For information on research and training opportunities available throughout the National Institutes of Health (NIH), please visit For opportunities available specifically through the National Eye Institute, please visit our website at

How do I order NEI publications?

For information on the publications that NEI has to offer, please visit our online publications catalog at You may get one free copy of our most requested publications by ordering online. If you need bulk quantities, there are small shipping and handling fees. Fees will vary depending on the publication. These fees can only be paid online by using American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa credit cards. International shipments are limited to single copies of publications. Publications are not copyright restricted. Users are encouraged to duplicate and distribute as many copies as needed.

How can I make an appointment to be seen at the NEI Clinic?

The NEI sees patients in its eye clinic on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, Maryland. These patients are participating in research studies to help us learn more about specific eye diseases. Only patients who are part of NEI clinical studies are eligible to receive treatment at our clinic. For information on studies that are currently looking for patients, call the NIH Clinical Center Information Line at 1-800-411-1222.

Can the NEI provide medical advice on my specific condition?

The NEI cannot offer medical advice to individuals about their condition or treatment. We recommend that you work with your eye care professional for answers to questions about your personal eye problems or consider getting a second opinion. The following online brochure may be helpful when you are talking with your eye care professional

How do I get help in finding an eye care professional?

The National Eye Institute (NEI) is unable to make referrals to specific doctors. For resources that can help you find an eye care professional, please see the following document on the NEI website:

Can NEI help me pay for my eye care?

We are unable to assist you in paying for medical care. For resources that are able to provide financial assistance in paying for eye care, please see our website document at

Can I donate money to the NEI?

The National Eye Institute does accept charitable contributions. These contributions are tax deductible. For additional information on making donations to the NEI, please see Contributions can be made to the NEI by sending a check or money order payable to "The National Eye Institute" addressed to:

Budget Officer
National Eye Institute
Building 31, Room 6A16
31 Center Drive MSC 2510
Bethesda, MD 20892-2510

Where can I get information about my medications?

The National Library of Medicine, another part of the National Institutes of Health, provides a guide on their website to thousands of prescription and over-the-counter medications. The guide gives information about side effects, dosing, drug interactions, precautions, and storage for each drug. Because the information is intended for use by patients, it is written in non-technical language. See the guide at

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), another government agency that is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, coordinates clinical trials on new drugs and collects information on drug side effects. You may wish to contact them directly on 1-888-463-6332 or visit their website at

Where can I find information about medical devices such as contact lenses and intraocular lenses?

Medical devices are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), another government agency that is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Please visit their website at or call 1-888-463-6332.

Where can I find information about LASIK?

LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) is a surgical procedure intended to reduce a person's dependency on glasses or contact lenses. LASIK is used to treat refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. For more information on LASIK, please visit the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) website at The FDA, another government agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for medical devices such as the laser used in LASIK.

Is a whole eye transplant possible?

The optic nerve, which sends visual signals from the eye to the brain, consists of about one million fibers. Because transplanting a whole eye would require that the optic nerve be cut and then reattached, scientists do not expect that this type of procedure will be possible. Researchers are focusing on how to regenerate damaged optic nerves and how to replace damaged retinal cells with healthy transplants. However, this work is in its early stages and it may be many years before there are any findings that could be used to restore vision in humans.


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This page was last modified in October 2008

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