Deep learning-based classification of retinal atrophy using fundus autofluorescence imaging

Comput Biol Med. 2021 Mar;130:104198. doi: 10.1016/j.compbiomed.2020.104198. Epub 2020 Dec 28.


Purpose: To automatically classify retinal atrophy according to its etiology, using fundus autofluorescence (FAF) images, using a deep learning model.

Methods: In this study, FAF images of patients with advanced dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), also called geographic atrophy (GA), and genetically confirmed inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) in late atrophic stages [Stargardt disease (STGD1) and Pseudo-Stargardt Pattern Dystrophy (PSPD)] were included. The FAF images were used to train a multi-layer deep convolutional neural network (CNN) to differentiate on FAF between atrophy in the context of AMD (GA) and atrophy secondary to IRDs. Three-hundred fourteen FAF images were included, of which 110 images were of GA eyes and 204 were eyes with genetically confirmed STGD1 or PSPD. In the first approach, the CNN was trained and validated with 251 FAF images. Established augmentation techniques were used and an Adam optimizer was used for training. For the subsequent testing, the built classifiers were then tested with 63 untrained FAF images. The visualization method was integrated gradient visualization. In the second approach, 10-fold cross-validation was used to determine the model's performance.

Results: In the first approach, the best performance of the model was obtained using 10 epochs, with an accuracy of 0.92 and an area under the curve for Receiver Operating Characteristic (AUC-ROC) of 0.981. Mean accuracy was 87.30 ± 2.96. In the second approach, a mean accuracy of 0.79 ± 0.06 was obtained.

Conclusion: This study describes the use of a deep learning-based algorithm to automatically classify atrophy on FAF imaging according to its etiology. Accurate differential diagnosis between GA and late-onset IRDs masquerading as GA on FAF can be performed with good accuracy and AUC-ROC values.

Trial registration: NCT02087085 NCT02247479.

Keywords: Convolutional neural network; Deep learning; Geographic atrophy; Inherited retinal disease; Retinal imaging.

MeSH terms

  • Atrophy
  • Deep Learning*
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Geographic Atrophy*
  • Humans
  • Optical Imaging
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence

Associated data