To demonstrate how human-machine intelligence can be integrated for efficient image analysis of drusen in age-related macular degeneration and to validate the method in 2 large, independently graded, population-based data sets.
We studied 358 manually graded color slides from the Netherlands Genetic Isolate Study. All slides were digitized and analyzed with a user-interactive drusen detection algorithm for the presence and quantity of small, intermediate, and large drusen. A graphic user interface was used to preprocess the images, choose a region of interest, select appropriate corrective filters for images with photographic artifacts or prominent choroidal pattern, and perform drusen segmentation. Weighted κ statistics were used to analyze the initial concordance between human graders and the drusen detection algorithm; discordant grades from 177 left-eye slides were subjected to exhaustive analysis of causes of disagreement and adjudication. To validate our method further, we analyzed a second data set from our Columbia Macular Genetics Study.
The graphical user interface decreased the time required to process images in commercial software by 60.0%. After eliminating borderline size disagreements and applying corrective filters for photographic artifacts and choroidal pattern, the weighted κ values were 0.61, 0.62, and 0.76 for small, intermediate, and large drusen, respectively. Our second data set demonstrated a similarly high concordance.
Drusen identification performed by our user-interactive method presented fair to good agreement with human graders after filters for common sources of error were applied. This approach exploits a synergistic relationship between the intelligent user and machine computational power, enabling fast and accurate quantitative retinal image analysis.