The study was done to develop a deep learning system for automated glaucomatous optic neuropathy (GON) detection using ultra-widefield fundus (UWF) images.

In this study the researchers trained, validated and externally evaluated a deep learning system for GON detection based on 22 972 UWF images from 10 590 subjects that were collected at 4 different institutions in China and Japan. The InceptionResNetV2 neural network architecture was used to develop the system. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), sensitivity and specificity were used to assess the performance of detecting GON by the system. The data set from the Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center (ZOC) was selected to compare the performance of the system to that of ophthalmologists who mainly conducted UWF image analysis in clinics.

The system for GON detection achieved AUCs of 0.983–0.999 with sensitivities of 97.5–98.2% and specificities of 94.3–98.4% in four independent data sets. The most common reasons for false-negative results were confounding optic disc characteristics caused by high myopia or pathological myopia (n=39 (53%)). The leading cause for false-positive results was having other fundus lesions (n=401 (96%)). The performance of the system in the ZOC data set was comparable to that of an experienced ophthalmologist (p>0.05).

The study concluded that the deep learning system can accurately detect GON from UWF images in an automated fashion.