Purpose: To describe the rationale, methods and research potential of eye and vision measures available in UK Biobank.
Participants: UK Biobank is a large, multisite, prospective cohort study. Extensive lifestyle and health questionnaires, a range of physical measures and collection of biological specimens are collected. The scope of UK Biobank was extended midway through data collection to include assessments of other measures of health, including eyes and vision. The eye assessment at baseline included questionnaires detailing past ophthalmic and family history, measurement of visual acuity, refractive error and keratometry, intraocular pressure (IOP), corneal biomechanics, spectral domain optical coherence tomography (OCT) of the macula and a disc-macula fundus photograph. Since recruitment, UK Biobank has collected accelerometer data and begun multimodal imaging data (including brain, heart and abdominal MRI) in 100 000 participants. Dense genotypic data and a panel of 20 biochemistry measures are available, and linkage to medical health records for the full cohort has begun.
Findings to date: A total of 502 665 people aged between 40 and 69 were recruited to participate in UK Biobank. Of these, 117 175 took part in baseline assessment of vision, IOP, refraction and keratometry. A subgroup of 67 321 underwent OCT and retinal photography. The introduction of eye and vision measures in UK Biobank was accompanied by intensive training, support and a data monitoring quality control process.
Future plans: UK Biobank is one of the largest prospective cohorts worldwide with extensive data on ophthalmic diseases and conditions. Data collection is an ongoing process and a repeat of the baseline assessment including the questionnaires, measurements and sample collection will be performed in subsets of 25 000 participants every 2-3 years. The depth and breadth of this dataset, coupled with its open-access policy, will create a powerful resource for all researchers to investigate the eye diseases in later life.
Keywords: dementia; epidemiology; medical ophthalmology; medical retina.
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