Ocular biomarkers for cognitive impairment in nonagenarians; a prospective cross-sectional study

BMC Geriatr. 2020 Apr 28;20(1):155. doi: 10.1186/s12877-020-01556-1.


Background: Ocular imaging receives much attention as a source of potential biomarkers for dementia. In the present study, we analyze these ocular biomarkers in cognitively impaired and healthy participants in a population aged over 90 years (= nonagenarian), and elucidate the effects of age on these biomarkers.

Methods: For this prospective cross-sectional study, we included individuals from the EMIF-AD 90+ study, consisting of a cognitively healthy (N = 67) and cognitively impaired group (N = 33), and the EMIF-AD PreclinAD study, consisting of cognitively healthy controls aged ≥60 (N = 198). Participants underwent Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) and fundus photography of both eyes. OCT was used to asses total and individual inner retinal layer thickness in the macular region (Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study circles) as well as peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer thickness, fundus images were analyzed with Singapore I Vessel Assessment to obtain 7 retinal vascular parameters. Values for both eyes were averaged. Differences in ocular biomarkers between the 2 nonagenarian groups were analyzed using linear regression, differences between the individual nonagenarian groups and controls were analyzed using generalized estimating equations.

Results: Ocular biomarkers did not differ between the healthy and cognitively impaired nonagenarian groups. 19 out of 22 ocular biomarkers assessed in this study differed between either nonagenarian group and the younger controls.

Conclusion: The ocular biomarkers assessed in this study were not associated with cognitive impairment in nonagenarians, making their use as a screening tool for dementing disorders in this group limited. However, ocular biomarkers were significantly associated with chronological age, which were very similar to those ascribed to occur in Alzheimer's Disease.

Keywords: Cognitive impairment; Fundus photography; Nonagenarians; Ocular biomarkers; Optical coherence tomography; Retina; Singapore I vessel assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / complications*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnostic imaging
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Eye / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retina / diagnostic imaging
  • Retinal Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Singapore
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence / methods*


  • Biomarkers