Investigating retinal features and other health characteristics that are predictive of refractive error and risk of pathologic myopia.
Short-sightedness (myopia) is a common eye condition that necessitates the use of corrective lenses to see clearly as distant objects appear blurry. While commonly viewed as a mere inconvenience, it is now recognised that myopia increases one's risk of several potentially sight-threatening conditions. This increased risk is believed to be brought about by the lengthening of the eyeball, which stretches and renders the back of the eye weaker. We therefore aim to investigate the influence of myopia on different structures of the light-sensitive layer of the back of the eye, i.e. retina. Previous studies have looked at pertinent features in isolation and in mostly Asian populations. We aim to identify structures of the retina most affected by refractive error in a primarily British cohort. This will advance our understanding of, for instance, why complications that affect the central part of the retina tend to be more strongly associated with myopia than those that affect other regions.
We also aim to tap into artificial intelligence (AI) to predict future development of myopic complications from routine photographs of the retina alone. This would be valuable considering that not all individuals with high myopia will develop complications with the potential to permanently affect their vision if treated late. The benefit of accurately detecting at-risk patients even before they develop complications is twofold. First, these patients could be prioritised/ followed up more frequently so any unnecessary delay in initiating treatment as required can be minimised. Second, treatment (e.g. gene therapy) that prevents the development of certain complications may become available in the future so at-risk patients may be treated at the earliest opportunity.