Principal Investigator: Philippa Cumberland
Department: Institute of Child Health
Institution: University College London (UCL)
UCL Institute of Child Health
Centre for Epidemiology & Biostatistics
There are major gaps in our epidemiological knowledge about the visual health of adults in the UK. This project will conduct a cross-sectional and longitudinal (life course) analysis to investigate the biological, social and lifestyle factors, across the life span, that are associated with visual function and the risk of sight impairment. We also aim to investigate the general and mental health, social factors and ethnic diversity of adults with impaired sight in the UK Biobank with a view to identifying risk factors that can be modified or biological processes and pathways that would merit further research to develop new treatments. Our findings will also provide information to support current advocacy for equitable and appropriate allocation of resources for individuals with impaired vision. Specifically, using short-sightedness (myopia), as a model of ‘complex’ eye disease (i.e. influenced by genes and the environment) we will investigate these complex relationships between myopia and a diverse range of risk factors over the life course. This project is also linked to genetic investigations of myopia within UK Biobank. This project requires baseline data for the whole cohort on eye measures, lifestyle and psychosocial factors, blood pressure, body impedance and medical conditions.
The Cohort and Longitudinal Studies Enhancement Resource (CLOSER) is a programme of work which aims to maximise the use and impact of UK cohort studies using data harmonisation across datasets as well as cross-cohort analyses. As the group leading the ‘Eyes and Vision’ theme funded as part of the original MRC/ESRC/BiS grant for CLOSER, we have now started to pull together the studies to include within this programme. The 3 specific aims for our work package within this programme, as listed below, reflect the aims of our current application (no. 699) to UK Biobank.
- Scientific theme on refractive error.
We will apply lifecourse epidemiological approaches to investigate biological, environmental and lifestyle risk factors influencing the development of refractive error. We will investigate the health and social outcomes associated with refractive error. We will assess cohort effects to understand changes over time in both risk factors and outcomes. Finally we will investigate the utility of self-report on refractive error (using the cohorts with both physical measures and self-report) so to make recommendations regarding its future use.
- Scientific theme on visual function:
We will apply lifecourse epidemiological approaches to investigate biosocial factors influencing visual function/visual health. We will investigate the health and social outcomes associated with impaired visual health/function. We will assess cohort effects to understand changes over time in both risk factors and outcomes. Finally we will investigate the utility of self-report alone on visual function and ophthalmic conditions, (using the cohorts with both physical measures and self-report) so as to make recommendations regarding future use of self-report.
- Methodological theme.
We aim to undertake harmonisation of ophthalmic measures across all the national cohorts/studies comprising the 1946, 1958, 1970 birth cohorts, Millennium cohort, ALSPAC and Understanding Society. Bio-physical measures of vision (distance, near and stereo acuity measures and colour vision) and refraction will be harmonised together with the extensive self-reported data on visual function and ophthalmic disorders in each of these cohorts.
This will draw on and extend the forward harmonisation of self-report and physical measures within 1958 birth cohort that we (Rahi et al) built into UK Biobank.
All the main UK birth and other cohorts are part of CLOSER. We and Alison Parks (new Director of CLOSER) are keen to be able to include UK BIOBANK within our research programme. We think this will add value to both UK BIOBANK and CLOSER and provide a productive working example to illustrate/facilitate possible further collaborations between UK BIOBANK and CLOSER in other topic areas.