Artificial Intelligence and Corneal Confocal Microscopy: The Start of a Beautiful Relationship

Uazman Alam, Matthew Anson, Yanda Meng, Frank Preston, Varo Kirthi, Timothy L Jackson, Paul Nderitu, Daniel J Cuthbertson, Rayaz A Malik, Yalin Zheng, Ioannis N Petropoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Corneal confocal microscopy (CCM) is a rapid non-invasive in vivo ophthalmic imaging technique that images the cornea. Historically, it was utilised in the diagnosis and clinical management of corneal epithelial and stromal disorders. However, over the past 20 years, CCM has been increasingly used to image sub-basal small nerve fibres in a variety of peripheral neuropathies and central neurodegenerative diseases. CCM has been used to identify subclinical nerve damage and to predict the development of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). The complex structure of the corneal sub-basal nerve plexus can be readily analysed through nerve segmentation with manual or automated quantification of parameters such as corneal nerve fibre length (CNFL), nerve fibre density (CNFD), and nerve branch density (CNBD). Large quantities of 2D corneal nerve images lend themselves to the application of artificial intelligence (AI)-based deep learning algorithms (DLA). Indeed, DLA have demonstrated performance comparable to manual but superior to automated quantification of corneal nerve morphology. Recently, our end-to-end classification with a 3 class AI model demonstrated high sensitivity and specificity in differentiating healthy volunteers from people with and without peripheral neuropathy. We believe there is significant scope and need to apply AI to help differentiate between peripheral neuropathies and also central neurodegenerative disorders. AI has significant potential to enhance the diagnostic and prognostic utility of CCM in the management of both peripheral and central neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2022


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