Automated detection of exudative age-related macular degeneration in spectral domain optical coherence tomography using deep learning

  • Maximilian TrederEmail author
  • Jost Lennart Lauermann
  • Nicole Eter
Retinal Disorders



Our purpose was to use deep learning for the automated detection of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT).


A total of 1112 cross-section SD-OCT images of patients with exudative AMD and a healthy control group were used for this study. In the first step, an open-source multi-layer deep convolutional neural network (DCNN), which was pretrained with 1.2 million images from ImageNet, was trained and validated with 1012 cross-section SD-OCT scans (AMD: 701; healthy: 311). During this procedure training accuracy, validation accuracy and cross-entropy were computed. The open-source deep learning framework TensorFlow™ (Google Inc., Mountain View, CA, USA) was used to accelerate the deep learning process. In the last step, a created DCNN classifier, using the information of the above mentioned deep learning process, was tested in detecting 100 untrained cross-section SD-OCT images (AMD: 50; healthy: 50). Therefore, an AMD testing score was computed: 0.98 or higher was presumed for AMD.


After an iteration of 500 training steps, the training accuracy and validation accuracies were 100%, and the cross-entropy was 0.005. The average AMD scores were 0.997 ± 0.003 in the AMD testing group and 0.9203 ± 0.085 in the healthy comparison group. The difference between the two groups was highly significant (p < 0.001).


With a deep learning-based approach using TensorFlow™, it is possible to detect AMD in SD-OCT with high sensitivity and specificity. With more image data, an expansion of this classifier for other macular diseases or further details in AMD is possible, suggesting an application for this model as a support in clinical decisions. Another possible future application would involve the individual prediction of the progress and success of therapy for different diseases by automatically detecting hidden image information.


Deep learning Age-related macular degeneration Deep convolutional neural network Optical coherence tomography Machine learning 



No funding was received for this research.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors certify that they have no affiliations

with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest (such as honoraria; educational grants; participation in speakers’ bureaus; membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest; and expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements), or non-financial interest (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge or beliefs) in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.

Financial disclosure

M. Treder: Allergan, Novartis; J.L. Lauermann: Bayer, Novartis; and N. Eter: Allergan, Alimera, Bausch and Lomb, Bayer, Heidelberg Engineering, Novartis, Roche.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human

participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

For this type of study formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of OphthalmologyUniversity of Muenster Medical CenterMuensterGermany

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