BACKGROUND: Artificial neural networks (ANNs) have been used to classify eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy (DR) and glaucoma. DR is the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults in the developed world. The implementation of DR diagnostic routines could be feasibly improved by the integration of structural and optical property test measurements of the retinal structure that provide important and complementary information for reaching a diagnosis. In this study, we evaluate the capability of several structural and optical features (thickness, total reflectance and fractal dimension) of various intraretinal layers extracted from optical coherence tomography images to train a Bayesian ANN to discriminate between healthy and diabetic eyes with and with no mild retinopathy.
RESULTS: When exploring the probability as to whether the subject's eye was healthy (diagnostic condition, Test 1), we found that the structural and optical property features of the outer plexiform layer (OPL) and the complex formed by the ganglion cell and inner plexiform layers (GCL + IPL) provided the highest probability (positive predictive value (PPV) of 91% and 89%, respectively) for the proportion of patients with positive test results (healthy condition) who were correctly diagnosed (Test 1). The true negative, TP and PPV values remained stable despite the different sizes of training data sets (Test 2). The sensitivity, specificity and PPV were greater or close to 0.70 for the retinal nerve fiber layer's features, photoreceptor outer segments and retinal pigment epithelium when 23 diabetic eyes with mild retinopathy were mixed with 38 diabetic eyes with no retinopathy (Test 3).
CONCLUSIONS: A Bayesian ANN trained on structural and optical features from optical coherence tomography data can successfully discriminate between healthy and diabetic eyes with and with no retinopathy. The fractal dimension of the OPL and the GCL + IPL complex predicted by the Bayesian radial basis function network provides better diagnostic utility to classify diabetic eyes with mild retinopathy. Moreover, the thickness and fractal dimension parameters of the retinal nerve fiber layer, photoreceptor outer segments and retinal pigment epithelium show promise for the diagnostic classification between diabetic eyes with and with no mild retinopathy.
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