Insights into Systemic Disease through Retinal Imaging-Based Oculomics

Transl Vis Sci Technol. 2020 Feb 12;9(2):6. doi: 10.1167/tvst.9.2.6.


Among the most noteworthy developments in ophthalmology over the last decade has been the emergence of quantifiable high-resolution imaging modalities, which are typically non-invasive, rapid and widely available. Such imaging is of unquestionable utility in the assessment of ocular disease however evidence is also mounting for its role in identifying ocular biomarkers of systemic disease, which we term oculomics. In this review, we highlight our current understanding of how retinal morphology evolves in two leading causes of global morbidity and mortality, cardiovascular disease and dementia. Population-based analyses have demonstrated the predictive value of retinal microvascular indices, as measured through fundus photography, in screening for heart attack and stroke. Similarly, the association between the structure of the neurosensory retina and prevalent neurodegenerative disease, in particular Alzheimer's disease, is now well-established. Given the growing size and complexity of emerging multimodal datasets, modern artificial intelligence techniques, such as deep learning, may provide the optimal opportunity to further characterize these associations, enhance our understanding of eye-body relationships and secure novel scalable approaches to the risk stratification of chronic complex disorders of ageing.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; deep learning; optical coherence tomography.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological
  • Eye Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases*
  • Retina / diagnostic imaging