Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Background and purposeThe eye is a well-established model of brain structure and function, yet region-specific structural correlations between the retina and the brain remain underexplored. Therefore, we aim to explore and describe the relationships between the retinal layer thicknesses and brain magnetic resonance image (MRI)-derived phenotypes in UK Biobank.MethodsParticipants with both quality-controlled optical coherence tomography (OCT) and brain MRI were included in this study. Retinal sublayer thicknesses and total macular thickness were derived from OCT scans. Brain image-derived phenotypes (IDPs) of 153 cortical and subcortical regions were processed from MRI scans. We utilized multivariable linear regression models to examine the association between retinal thickness and brain regional volumes. All analyses were corrected for multiple testing and adjusted for confounders.ResultsData from 6446 participants were included in this study. We identified significant associations between volumetric brain MRI measures of subregions in the occipital lobe (intracalcarine cortex), parietal lobe (postcentral gyrus), cerebellum (lobules VI, VIIb, VIIIa, VIIIb, and IX), and deep brain structures (thalamus, hippocampus, caudate, putamen, pallidum, and accumbens) and the thickness of the innermost retinal sublayers and total macular thickness (all p -5). We did not observe statistically significant associations between brain IDPs and the thickness of the outer retinal sublayers.ConclusionsThinner inner and total retinal thicknesses are associated with smaller volumes of specific brain regions. Notably, these relationships extend beyond anatomically established retina-brain connections.

Original publication




Journal article


European journal of neurology

Publication Date



National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital National Health Service Foundation Trust and University College London Institute of Ophthalmology, London, UK.


UK Biobank Eye and Vision Consortium