Periodontitis and outer retinal thickness: A cross-sectional analysis of the UK Biobank cohort

Siegfried K. Wagner, Praveen J. Patel, Josef Huemer, Hagar Khalid, Kelsey V. Stuart, Colin J. Chu, Dominic J. Williamson, Robbert R. Struyven, David Romero-Bascones, Paul J. Foster, Anthony P. Khawaja, Axel Petzold, Konstantinos Balaskas, Mario Cortina-Borja, Iain Chapple, Thomas Dietrich, Jugnoo S. Rahi, Alastair K. Denniston, Pearse A. Keane (Lead / Corresponding author), UK Biobank Eye and Vision ConsortiumAlexander Doney (Contributing member), Emanuele Trucco (Contributing member)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: Periodontitis, a ubiquitous severe gum disease affecting the teeth and surrounding alveolar bone, can heighten systemic inflammation. We investigated the association between very severe periodontitis and early biomarkers of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), in individuals with no eye disease.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis of the prospective community-based cohort United Kingdom (UK) Biobank.

PARTICIPANTS: Sixty-seven thousand three hundred eleven UK residents aged 40 to 70 years recruited between 2006 and 2010 underwent retinal imaging.

METHODS: Macular-centered OCT images acquired at the baseline visit were segmented for retinal sublayer thicknesses. Very severe periodontitis was ascertained through a touchscreen questionnaire. Linear mixed effects regression modeled the association between very severe periodontitis and retinal sublayer thicknesses, adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, alcohol consumption, smoking status, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, refractive error, and previous cataract surgery.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Photoreceptor layer (PRL) and retinal pigment epithelium-Bruch's membrane (RPE-BM) thicknesses.

RESULTS: Among 36 897 participants included in the analysis, 1571 (4.3%) reported very severe periodontitis. Affected individuals were older, lived in areas of greater socioeconomic deprivation, and were more likely to be hypertensive, diabetic, and current smokers (all P < 0.001). On average, those with very severe periodontitis were hyperopic (0.05 ± 2.27 diopters) while those unaffected were myopic (-0.29 ± 2.40 diopters, P < 0.001). Following adjusted analysis, very severe periodontitis was associated with thinner PRL (-0.55 μm, 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.97 to -0.12; P = 0.022) but there was no difference in RPE-BM thickness (0.00 μm, 95% CI, -0.12 to 0.13; P = 0.97). The association between PRL thickness and very severe periodontitis was modified by age (P < 0.001). Stratifying individuals by age, thinner PRL was seen among those aged 60 to 69 years with disease (-1.19 μm, 95% CI, -1.85 to -0.53; P < 0.001) but not among those aged < 60 years.

CONCLUSIONS: Among those with no known eye disease, very severe periodontitis is statistically associated with a thinner PRL, consistent with incipient AMD. Optimizing oral hygiene may hold additional relevance for people at risk of degenerative retinal disease.

FINANCIAL DISCLOSURES: Proprietary or commercial disclosure may be found in the Footnotes and Disclosures at the end of this article.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100472
JournalOphthalmology Science
Issue number4
Early online date19 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2024


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