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In Translational vision science & technology

Purpose : Optical coherence tomography (OCT) has recently emerged as a source for powerful biomarkers in neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and neuromyelitis optica (NMO). The application of machine learning techniques to the analysis of OCT data has enabled automatic extraction of information with potential to aid the timely diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases. These algorithms require large amounts of labeled data, but few such OCT data sets are available now.

Methods : To address this challenge, here we propose a synthetic data generation method yielding a tailored augmentation of three-dimensional (3D) OCT data and preserving differences between control and disease data. A 3D active shape model is used to produce synthetic retinal layer boundaries, simulating data from healthy controls (HCs) as well as from patients with MS or NMO.

Results : To evaluate the generated data, retinal thickness maps are extracted and evaluated under a broad range of quality metrics. The results show that the proposed model can generate realistic-appearing synthetic maps. Quantitatively, the image histograms of the synthetic thickness maps agree with the real thickness maps, and the cross-correlations between synthetic and real maps are also high. Finally, we use the generated data as an augmentation technique to train stronger diagnostic models than those using only the real data.

Conclusions : This approach provides valuable data augmentation, which can help overcome key bottlenecks of limited data.

Translational Relevance : By addressing the challenge posed by limited data, the proposed method helps apply machine learning methods to diagnose neurodegenerative diseases from retinal imaging.

Danesh Hajar, Steel David H, Hogg Jeffry, Ashtari Fereshteh, Innes Will, Bacardit Jaume, Hurlbert Anya, Read Jenny C A, Kafieh Rahele