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BMJ Open. 2019 Feb 21;9(2):e025077. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-025077.

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

Author information

NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, London, UK.
Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
Department of Clinical and Experimental Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.
Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.
Institute of Clinical Science, Queen's University Belfast Faculty of Medicine Health and Life Sciences, Belfast, Belfast, UK.



To describe the rationale, methods and research potential of eye and vision measures available in UK Biobank.


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.


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.


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.


dementia; epidemiology; medical ophthalmology; medical retina

Conflict of interest statement

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.

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