AlzEye Detecting signs of dementia in the retina

AlzEye is an unprecedented data linkage project linking >2 million retinal photos and scans of >250,000 people, who attended Moorfields Eye Hospital between 2008 and 2018 with nationally held data (NHS Digital) on people, who develop Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Led by Dr Pearse Keane, AlzEye provides a tailored unique dataset to explore patterns of retinal change associated with the development of dementia across a diverse population of varying ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

In order to address the limitations of previous work including small cohort sizes, single imaging modalities and lack of longitudinal data, we developed AlzEye, an unprecedented large pseuodnymised dataset linking retinal photographs and OCT scans with NHS Digital Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data on cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative disease with additional covariate labels including diabetes mellitus, hypertensive diseases, disorders of lipoprotein metabolism and all diseases of pulmonary circulation. The AlzEye data linkage is funded by a grant from Fight for Sight UK and Alzheimer’s Research UK, awarded in October 2017 and led by Dr Pearse Keane.

Our data linkage strategy and information governance measures have been complimented by the UK Research Ethics Committee and NHS Digital with the independent panel, IGARD, highlighting that our application “could be used as an exemplar to help other researchers with their applications to the Data Access Request Service” (IGARD minutes 24.01.2019).

The AlzEye Moorfields privacy notice can be found here.