Assessing the Efficacy of Synthetic Optic Disc Images for Detecting Glaucomatous Optic Neuropathy Using Deep Learning

Abadh K. Chaurasia, Stuart MacGregor, Jamie E. Craig, David A. Mackey, Alex W. Hewitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: Deep learning architectures can automatically learn complex features and patterns associated with glaucomatous optic neuropathy (GON). However, developing robust algorithms requires a large number of data sets. We sought to train an adversarial model for generating high-quality optic disc images from a large, diverse data set and then assessed the performance of models on generated synthetic images for detecting GON. 

Methods: A total of 17,060 (6874 glaucomatous and 10,186 healthy) fundus images were used to train deep convolutional generative adversarial networks (DCGANs) for synthesizing disc images for both classes. We then trained two models to detect GON, one solely on these synthetic images and another on a mixed data set (synthetic and real clinical images). Both the models were externally validated on a data set not used for training. The multiple classification metrics were evaluated with 95% confidence intervals. Models' decision-making processes were assessed using gradient-weighted class activation mapping (Grad-CAM) techniques. 

Results: Following receiver operating characteristic curve analysis, an optimal cup-to-disc ratio threshold for detecting GON from the training data was found to be 0.619. DCGANs generated high-quality synthetic disc images for healthy and glaucomatous eyes. When trained on a mixed data set, the model's area under the receiver operating characteristic curve attained 99.85% on internal validation and 86.45% on external validation. Grad-CAM saliency maps were primarily centered on the optic nerve head, indicating a more precise and clinically relevant attention area of the fundus image. 

Conclusions: Although our model performed well on synthetic data, training on a mixed data set demonstrated better performance and generalization. Integrating synthetic and real clinical images can optimize the performance of a deep learning model in glaucoma detection. Translational Relevance: Optimizing deep learning models for glaucoma detection through integrating DCGAN-generated synthetic and real-world clinical data can be improved and generalized in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Number of pages11
JournalTranslational Vision Science & Technology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


  • deep convolutional generative adversarial networks
  • glaucomatous optic neuropathy
  • deep learning
  • synthetic disc images
  • optic nerve head


Dive into the research topics of 'Assessing the Efficacy of Synthetic Optic Disc Images for Detecting Glaucomatous Optic Neuropathy Using Deep Learning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this