Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

PURPOSE: The retina provides biomarkers of neuronal and vascular health that offer promising insights into cognitive ageing, mild cognitive impairment and dementia. This article described the rationale and methodology of eye and vision assessments with the aim of supporting the study of dementia in the UK Biobank Repeat Imaging study. PARTICIPANTS: UK Biobank is a large-scale, multicentre, prospective cohort containing in-depth genetic, lifestyle, environmental and health information from half a million participants aged 40-69 enrolled in 2006-2010 across the UK. A subset (up to 60 000 participants) of the cohort will be invited to the UK Biobank Repeat Imaging Study to collect repeated brain, cardiac and abdominal MRI scans, whole-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, carotid ultrasound, as well as retinal optical coherence tomography (OCT) and colour fundus photographs. FINDINGS TO DATE: UK Biobank has helped make significant advances in understanding risk factors for many common diseases, including for dementia and cognitive decline. Ophthalmic genetic and epidemiology studies have also benefited from the unparalleled combination of very large numbers of participants, deep phenotyping and longitudinal follow-up of the cohort, with comprehensive health data linkage to disease outcomes. In addition, we have used UK Biobank data to describe the relationship between retinal structures, cognitive function and brain MRI-derived phenotypes. FUTURE PLANS: The collection of eye-related data (eg, OCT), as part of the UK Biobank Repeat Imaging study, will take place in 2022-2028. The depth and breadth and longitudinal nature of this dataset, coupled with its open-access policy, will create a major new resource for dementia diagnostic discovery and to better understand its association with comorbid diseases. In addition, the broad and diverse data available in this study will support research into ophthalmic diseases and various other health outcomes beyond dementia.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





dementia, epidemiology, ophthalmology, Humans, Prospective Studies, Biological Specimen Banks, Retina, Eye Diseases, Dementia, United Kingdom