Comparison of Associations with Different Macular Inner Retinal Thickness Parameters in a Large Cohort: The UK Biobank

Anthony P. Khawaja*, UK Biobank Eye and Vision Consortium, Denize Atan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)
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To describe and compare associations with macular retinal nerve fiber layer (mRNFL), ganglion cell complex (GCC), and ganglion cell–inner plexiform layer (GCIPL) thicknesses in a large cohort.

Cross-sectional study.

We included 42 044 participants in the UK Biobank. The mean age was 56 years.

Spectral-domain OCT macular images were segmented and analyzed. Corneal-compensated intraocular pressure (IOPcc) was measured with the Ocular Response Analyzer (Reichert, Corp., Buffalo, NY). Multivariable linear regression was used to examine associations with mean mRNFL, GCC, and GCIPL thicknesses. Factors examined were age, sex, ethnicity, height, body mass index (BMI), smoking status, alcohol intake, Townsend deprivation index, education level, diabetes status, spherical equivalent, and IOPcc.

Main Outcome Measures
Thicknesses of mRNFL, GCC, and GCIPL.

We identified several novel independent associations with thinner inner retinal thickness. Thinner inner retina was associated with alcohol intake (most significant for GCIPL: –0.46 μm for daily or almost daily intake compared with special occasion only or never [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.61–0.30]; P = 1.1×10–8), greater social deprivation (most significant for GCIPL: –0.28 μm for most deprived quartile compared with least deprived quartile [95% CI, –0.42 to –0.14]; P = 6.6×10–5), lower educational attainment (most significant for mRNFL: –0.36 μm for less than O level compared with degree level [95% CI, –0.45 to 0.26]; P = 2.3×10–14), and nonwhite ethnicity (most significant for mRNFL comparing blacks with whites: –1.65 μm [95% CI, –1.86 to –1.43]; P = 2.4×10–50). Corneal-compensated intraocular pressure was associated most significantly with GCIPL (–0.04 μm/mmHg [95% CI, –0.05 to –0.03]; P = 4.0×10–10) and was not associated significantly with mRNFL (0.00 μm/mmHg [95% CI, –0.01 to 0.01]; P = 0.77). The variables examined explained a greater proportion of the variance of GCIPL (11%) than GCC (6%) or mRNFL (7%).

The novel associations we identified may be important to consider when using inner retinal parameters as a diagnostic tool. Associations generally were strongest with GCIPL, particularly for IOP. This suggests that GCIPL may be the superior inner retinal biomarker for macular pathophysiologic processes and especially for glaucoma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-71
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Early online date21 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


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