Performance of Deep Learning Architectures and Transfer Learning for Detecting Glaucomatous Optic Neuropathy in Fundus Photographs

Christopher, Mark; Belghith, Akram; Bowd, Christopher; Proudfoot, James A.; Goldbaum, Michael H.; Weinreb, Robert N.; Girkin, Christopher A.; Liebmann, Jeffrey M.; Zangwill, Linda M.

The ability of deep learning architectures to identify glaucomatous optic neuropathy (GON) in fundus photographs was evaluated. A large database of fundus photographs (n = 14,822) from a racially and ethnically diverse group of individuals (over 33% of African descent) was evaluated by expert reviewers and classified as GON or healthy. Several deep learning architectures and the impact of transfer learning were evaluated. The best performing model achieved an overall area under receiver operating characteristic (AUC) of 0.91 in distinguishing GON eyes from healthy eyes. It also achieved an AUC of 0.97 for identifying GON eyes with moderate-to-severe functional loss and 0.89 for GON eyes with mild functional loss. A sensitivity of 88% at a set 95% specificity was achieved in detecting moderate-to-severe GON. In all cases, transfer improved performance and reduced training time. Model visualizations indicate that these deep learning models relied on, in part, anatomical features in the inferior and superior regions of the optic disc, areas commonly used by clinicians to diagnose GON. The results suggest that deep learning-based assessment of fundus images could be useful in clinical decision support systems and in the automation of large-scale glaucoma detection and screening programs.


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Scientific Reports

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January 30, 2019