Automatic Cone Photoreceptor Localisation in Healthy and Stargardt Afflicted Retinas Using Deep Learning

Benjamin Davidson*, Angelos Kalitzeos, Joseph Carroll, Alfredo Dubra, Sebastien Ourselin, Michel Michaelides, Christos Bergeles

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)
94 Downloads (Pure)


We present a robust deep learning framework for the automatic localisation of cone photoreceptor cells in Adaptive Optics Scanning Light Ophthalmoscope (AOSLO) split-detection images. Monitoring cone photoreceptors with AOSLO imaging grants an excellent view into retinal structure and health, provides new perspectives into well known pathologies, and allows clinicians to monitor the effectiveness of experimental treatments. The MultiDimensional Recurrent Neural Network (MDRNN) approach developed in this paper is the first method capable of reliably and automatically identifying cones in both healthy retinas and retinas afflicted with Stargardt disease. Therefore, it represents a leap forward in the computational image processing of AOSLO images, and can provide clinical support in on-going longitudinal studies of disease progression and therapy. We validate our method using images from healthy subjects and subjects with the inherited retinal pathology Stargardt disease, which significantly alters image quality and cone density. We conduct a thorough comparison of our method with current state-of-the-art methods, and demonstrate that the proposed approach is both more accurate and appreciably faster in localizing cones. As further validation to the method's robustness, we demonstrate it can be successfully applied to images of retinas with pathologies not present in the training data: achromatopsia, and retinitis pigmentosa.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7911
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date21 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2018


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