Retinal Shape-Based Classification of Retinal Detachment and Posterior Vitreous Detachment Eyes

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Introduction: Retinal detachment is a sight-threatening emergency, with more than half of those affected suffering permanent visual impairment. A diagnostic test to identify eyes at risk before vision is threatened would enable exploration of prophylactic treatment. This report presents the use of irregularities in retinal shape, quantified from optical coherence tomography (OCT) images, as a biomarker for retinal detachment.

Methods: OCT images were taken from posterior and mid-peripheral retina of 264 individuals [97 after a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD), 99 after vitrectomy for retinal detachment and 68 after laser for a retinal tear]. Diagnoses were taken from history, examination and OCT. Retinal irregularity was quantified in the frequency domain, and the distribution of irregularity across the regions of the eye was explored to identify features exhibiting the greatest difference between retinal detachment and PVD eyes. Two of these features plus axial length were used to train a quadratic discriminant analysis classifier. Classifier performance was assessed by its sensitivity and specificity in identifying retinal detachment eyes and visualised with a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve. 

Results: Validation set specificity was 84% (44/52 PVD eyes correctly labelled) and sensitivity 35% (23/64 retinal detachment eyes identified, p = 0.02). Area under the ROC curve was 0.75 (95% confidence intervals 0.58–0.85). Retinal detachment eyes were significantly more irregular than PVD eyes in the superior retina (0.70 mm versus 0.49 mm, p < 0.05) and supero-temporal retina (1.12 mm versus 0.80 mm, p < 0.05). Lower sensitivity (16/68, 24%) was seen for eyes with a retinal tear without detachment, that were intermediate in size between retinal detachment and PVD eyes. Axial length on its own was a poor classifier. Neither irregularity nor classification were affected by surgery for retinal detachment or the development of PVD.

Conclusions: The classifier identified 1/3 of retinal detachment eyes in this sample. In future work, these features can be evaluated as a test for retinal detachment prior to PVD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-165
Number of pages11
JournalOphthalmology and Therapy
Issue number1
Early online date21 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • Fourier analysis
  • Machine learning
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Retinal detachment
  • Vitreous detachment


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