Prediction of retinopathy progression using deep learning on retinal images within the Scottish screening programme

Joe Mellor, Wenhua Jiang Jiang, Alan Fleming, Stuart McGurnaghan, Luke Blackbourn, Caroline Styles, Amos J Storkey, Paul M McKeigue, Helen M Colhoun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

National guidelines of many countries set screening intervals for diabetic retinopathy (DR) based on grading of the last screening retinal images. We explore the potential of deep learning (DL) on images to predict progression to referable DR beyond DR grading, and the potential impact on assigned screening intervals, within the Scottish screening programme.

We consider 21346 and 247233 people with T1DM and T2DM respectively each contributing on average 4.8 and 4.4 screening intervals of which 1339 and 4675 intervals concluded with a referable screening episode. Information extracted from fundus images using DL were used to predict referable status at the end of interval and its predictive value in comparison to screening-assigned DR grade was assessed.

The DL predictor increased the AUC in comparison to a predictor using current DR grades from 0.809 to 0.87 for T1DM and from 0.825 to 0.87 for T2DM. Expected sojourn time – the time from becoming referable to being rescreened - was found to be 3.4 (T1DM) and 2.7 (T2DM) weeks less for a DL-derived policy compared to the current recall policy.

We showed that, compared to using the current retinopathy grade, DL of fundus images significantly improves the prediction of incident referable retinopathy before the next screening episode. This can impact screening recall interval policy positively, for example, by reducing the expected time with referable disease for a fixed workload - which we show as an exemplar. Additionally, it could be used to optimise workload for a fixed sojourn time.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Ophthalmology
Early online date5 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Feb 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Diabetes
  • Retinopathy
  • Maculopathy
  • Deep Learning


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