Diabetic retinopathy (DR) at risk of vision loss (referable DR) needs to be identified by retinal screening and referred to an ophthalmologist. Existing automated algorithms have mostly been developed from images acquired with high cost mydriatic retinal cameras and cannot be applied in the settings used in most low- and middle-income countries. In this prospective multicentre study, we developed a deep learning system (DLS) that detects referable DR from retinal images acquired using handheld non-mydriatic fundus camera by non-technical field workers in 20 sites across India. Macula-centred and optic-disc-centred images from 16,247 eyes (9778 participants) were used to train and cross-validate the DLS and risk factor based logistic regression models. The DLS achieved an AUROC of 0.99 (1000 times bootstrapped 95% CI 0.98–0.99) using two-field retinal images, with 93.86 (91.34–96.08) sensitivity and 96.00 (94.68–98.09) specificity at the Youden’s index operational point. With single field inputs, the DLS reached AUROC of 0.98 (0.98–0.98) for the macula field and 0.96 (0.95–0.98) for the optic-disc field. Intergrader performance was 90.01 (88.95–91.01) sensitivity and 96.09 (95.72–96.42) specificity. The image based DLS outperformed all risk factor-based models. This DLS demonstrated a clinically acceptable performance for the identification of referable DR despite challenging image capture conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1392
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023


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