Cohort profile: Design and methods in the eye and vision consortium of UK Biobank

UK Biobank Eye and Vision Consortium

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15 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere025077
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The key ethics and governance principles relating to UK Biobank are laid out in the Ethics and Governance Framework,22 prepared by the project funders. Major funders include Medical Research Council (MRC) and Wellcome Trust, while other funding bodies include Department of Health (DoH), Scottish Government and the Welsh Government, North West Development Agency, British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK. All participants provided informed consent.

Funding Information:
Competing interests This analysis was supported by the Eranda Foundation via the International Glaucoma Association in the design and conduct of the study. The UCL ORS and GRS programmes provided scholarship support for ZM, PTK, PJF, and PP and SYLC received salary support from the NIHR BRC at Moorfields Eye Hospital. PJF received support from the Richard Desmond Charitable Trust, via Fight for Sight, London. PJF reports personal fees from Allergan, Carl Zeiss, Google/ DeepMind and Santen, a grant from Alcon, outside the submitted work.

Funding Information:
The methods and protocol for the ocular examination component were designed by ophthalmologists from Moorfields Eye Hospital (MEH), London, UK. The core funding for the examination was provided by the Wellcome Trust, the MRC and the DoH. Additional support for training, implementation and quality control came from the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at MEH. All ocular examinations were undertaken by trained personnel to ensure that the ocular measurements were acquired in a stepwise manner using standard operating procedures or instructions, and they had to pass a structured examination before the project started. The entire process including the teaching material was reviewed and moderated by an ophthalmologist from MEH, London, UK. The ocular examinations were conducted without pharmacological mydriasis and took an average time of 11 min to complete.7 Baseline eye examination was conducted from June 2009 to July 2010, subsequently, from August 2012 to June 2013, a subset of approximately 20 000 underwent follow-up examination, including all eye measures.

Funding Information:
Funding The UK Biobank Eye and Vision Consortium is supported by grants from Moorfields Eye Charity, The NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (BRC2_009) and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and the Alcon Research Institute.

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019.


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