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Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer Features Identified by Unsupervised Machine Learning on Optical Coherence Tomography Scans Predict Glaucoma Progression.

  • Author(s): Christopher, Mark
  • Belghith, Akram
  • Weinreb, Robert N
  • Bowd, Christopher
  • Goldbaum, Michael H
  • Saunders, Luke J
  • Medeiros, Felipe A
  • Zangwill, Linda M
  • et al.

Purpose:To apply computational techniques to wide-angle swept-source optical coherence tomography (SS-OCT) images to identify novel, glaucoma-related structural features and improve detection of glaucoma and prediction of future glaucomatous progression. Methods:Wide-angle SS-OCT, OCT circumpapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (cpRNFL) circle scans spectral-domain (SD)-OCT, standard automated perimetry (SAP), and frequency doubling technology (FDT) visual field tests were completed every 3 months for 2 years from a cohort of 28 healthy participants (56 eyes) and 93 glaucoma participants (179 eyes). RNFL thickness maps were extracted from segmented SS-OCT images and an unsupervised machine learning approach based on principal component analysis (PCA) was used to identify novel structural features. Area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) was used to assess diagnostic accuracy of RNFL PCA for detecting glaucoma and progression compared to SAP, FDT, and cpRNFL measures. Results:The RNFL PCA features were significantly associated with mean deviation (MD) in both SAP (R2 = 0.49, P < 0.0001) and FDT visual field testing (R2 = 0.48, P < 0.0001), and with mean circumpapillary RNFL thickness (cpRNFLt) from SD-OCT (R2 = 0.58, P < 0.0001). The identified features outperformed each of these measures in detecting glaucoma with an AUC of 0.95 for RNFL PCA compared to an 0.90 for mean cpRNFLt (P = 0.09), 0.86 for SAP MD (P = 0.034), and 0.83 for FDT MD (P = 0.021). Accuracy in predicting progression was also significantly higher for RNFL PCA compared to SAP MD, FDT MD, and mean cpRNFLt (P = 0.046, P = 0.007, and P = 0.044, respectively). Conclusions:A computational approach can identify structural features that improve glaucoma detection and progression prediction.

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