Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most widespread cause of blindness and the identification of baseline AMD features or biomarkers is critical for early intervention. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging produces a 3D volume consisting of cross sections of retinal tissue while fundus fluorescence (FAF) imaging produces a 2D mapping of retina. FAF has been a good standard for assessing dry AMD late-stage geographic atrophy (GA) while OCT has been used for assessing early AMD biomarkers beyond as well. However, previous approaches in large extent defined AMD features subjectively based on clinicians’ observation. Deep learning-an objective artificial intelligence approach, may enable to discover ‘true’ salient AMD features. We develop a novel reverse engineering approach which bases on the backbone of a fully convolutional neural network to objectively identify and visualize AMD early biomarkers in OCT from baseline exams before significant atrophy occurs. Utilizing manually annotated GA regions on FAF from a follow-up visit as ground truth, we segment GA regions and reconstruct early AMD features in baseline OCT volumes. In this preliminary exploration, compared with ground truth, we achieve baseline GA segmentation accuracy of 0.95 and overlapping ratio of 0.65. The reconstructions consistently highlight that large druse and druse clusters with or without mixed hyper-reflective focus lesion on baseline OCT cause the conversion of GA after 12 months. However, hyper-reflective focus lesions and subretinal drusenoid deposit lesions alone are not seen such conversion after 12 months. Further research with larger dataset would be needed to verify these findings.
© 2022. The Author(s).