AlzEye: longitudinal record-level linkage of ophthalmic imaging and hospital admissions of 353 157 patients in London, UK

Siegfried Karl Wagner, Fintan Hughes, Mario Cortina-Borja, Nikolas Pontikos, Robbert Struyven, Xiaoxuan Liu, Hugh Montgomery, Daniel C. Alexander, Eric Topol, Steffen Erhard Petersen, Konstantinos Balaskas, Jack Hindley, Axel Petzold, Jugnoo S. Rahi, Alastair K. Denniston, Pearse A. Keane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


PURPOSE: Retinal signatures of systemic disease ('oculomics') are increasingly being revealed through a combination of high-resolution ophthalmic imaging and sophisticated modelling strategies. Progress is currently limited not mainly by technical issues, but by the lack of large labelled datasets, a sine qua non for deep learning. Such data are derived from prospective epidemiological studies, in which retinal imaging is typically unimodal, cross-sectional, of modest number and relates to cohorts, which are not enriched with subpopulations of interest, such as those with systemic disease. We thus linked longitudinal multimodal retinal imaging from routinely collected National Health Service (NHS) data with systemic disease data from hospital admissions using a privacy-by-design third-party linkage approach. PARTICIPANTS: Between 1 January 2008 and 1 April 2018, 353 157 participants aged 40 years or older, who attended Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, a tertiary ophthalmic institution incorporating a principal central site, four district hubs and five satellite clinics in and around London, UK serving a catchment population of approximately six million people. FINDINGS TO DATE: Among the 353 157 individuals, 186 651 had a total of 1 337 711 Hospital Episode Statistics admitted patient care episodes. Systemic diagnoses recorded at these episodes include 12 022 patients with myocardial infarction, 11 735 with all-cause stroke and 13 363 with all-cause dementia. A total of 6 261 931 retinal images of seven different modalities and across three manufacturers were acquired from 1 54 830 patients. The majority of retinal images were retinal photographs (n=1 874 175) followed by optical coherence tomography (n=1 567 358). FUTURE PLANS: AlzEye combines the world's largest single institution retinal imaging database with nationally collected systemic data to create an exceptional large-scale, enriched cohort that reflects the diversity of the population served. First analyses will address cardiovascular diseases and dementia, with a view to identifying hidden retinal signatures that may lead to earlier detection and risk management of these life-threatening conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e058552
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2022

Cite this