Exploring a structural basis for delayed rod-mediated dark adaptation in age-related macular degeneration via deep learning

Academic Article


  • Purpose: Delayed rod-mediated dark adaptation (RMDA) is a functional biomarker for incipient age-related macular degeneration (AMD). We used anatomically restricted spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) imaging data to localize de novo imaging features associated with and to test hypotheses about delayed RMDA. Methods: Rod intercept time (RIT) was measured in participants with and without AMD at 5 degrees from the fovea, and macular SD-OCT images were obtained. A deep learningmodel was trained with anatomically restricted information using a single representative B-scan through the fovea of each eye. Mean-occlusion masking was utilized to isolate the relevant imaging features. Results: The model identified hyporeflective outer retinal bands on macular SD-OCT associated with delayed RMDA. The validation mean standard error (MSE) registered to the foveal B-scan localized the lowest error to 0.5 mm temporal to the fovea center, within an overall low-error region across the rod-free zone and adjoining parafovea. Mean absolute error (MAE) on the test set was 4.71minutes (8.8% of the dynamic range). Conclusions:We report a novel framework for imaging biomarker discovery using deep learning and demonstrate its ability to identify and localize a previously undescribed biomarker in retinal imaging. The hyporeflective outer retinal bands in central macula on SD-OCT demonstrate a structural basis for dysfunctional rod vision that correlates to published histopathologic findings. Translational Relevance: This agnostic approach to anatomic biomarker discovery strengthens the rationale for RMDA as an outcome measure in early AMD clinical trials, and also expands the utility of deep learning beyond automated diagnosis to fundamental discovery.
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    Author List

  • Lee AY; Lee CS; Blazes MS; Owen JP; Bagdasarova Y; Wu Y; Spaide T; Yanagihara RT; Kihara Y; Clark ME
  • Start Page

  • 1
  • End Page

  • 11
  • Volume

  • 9
  • Issue

  • 2