Purpose: To evaluate a machine learning algorithm that automatically grades age-related macular degeneration (AMD) severity stages from optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans.
Methods: A total of 3265 OCT scans from 1016 patients with either no signs of AMD or with signs of early, intermediate, or advanced AMD were randomly selected from a large European multicenter database. A machine learning system was developed to automatically grade unseen OCT scans into different AMD severity stages without requiring retinal layer segmentation. The ability of the system to identify high-risk AMD stages and to assign the correct severity stage was determined by using receiver operator characteristic (ROC) analysis and Cohen's κ statistics (κ), respectively. The results were compared to those of two human observers. Reproducibility was assessed in an independent, publicly available data set of 384 OCT scans.
Results: The system achieved an area under the ROC curve of 0.980 with a sensitivity of 98.2% at a specificity of 91.2%. This compares favorably with the performance of human observers who achieved sensitivities of 97.0% and 99.4% at specificities of 89.7% and 87.2%, respectively. A good level of agreement with the reference was obtained (κ = 0.713) and was in concordance with the human observers (κ = 0.775 and κ = 0.755, respectively).
Conclusions: A machine learning system capable of automatically grading OCT scans into AMD severity stages was developed and showed similar performance as human observers. The proposed automatic system allows for a quick and reliable grading of large quantities of OCT scans, which could increase the efficiency of large-scale AMD studies and pave the way for AMD screening using OCT.