Artificial intelligence allows for improved assessment of optic nerve cupping in glaucoma
Technique improves the structure-function relationship in glaucoma


Rockville, Md.A study being presented at the virtual 2021 Annual Meeting of The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) clarifies and further confirms the relationship between optic nerve cupping and glaucoma using unsupervised artificial intelligence (AI) techniques, unveiling component patterns.

Led by Mengyu Wang, PhD, of the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School, and his team sought to better represent optic nerve cupping characteristics — a hallmark of glaucoma — using three-dimensional topographic information of the optic cup. The research team employed unsupervised AI techniques which reduced complex structures into component patterns.

Using OCT scans of the optic nerve head (ONH), an unsupervised AI method termed non-negative matrix factorization was applied to assess the cup shape patterns. The cup shape patterns were correlated with visual field tests (VF) and OCT diagnostic parameters. The team then compared whether using the cup shape patterns improved the prediction of VF loss using linear regression with model selection to remove redundant features. Ultimately, researchers were able to determine 14 cup shape patterns from 9,854 OCT scans.

“Sufficiently using the three-dimensional topographic information of the optic cup improves structure-function relationship in glaucoma,” says Wang. “More importantly, the associations of cup shape patterns with visual function and retinal nerve fiber layer thickness allow us to see that focal cupping in inferior and superior regions matters most in glaucoma.”

  • Abstract title: Artificial Intelligence Assessment of Optic Cup Shape Patterns in Glaucoma
  • Presentation start/end time: Thursday, May 6, 2021, 11:15am – 1pm ET
  • Presentation number: 3545761


The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include approximately 10,000 eye and vision researchers from over 75 countries. ARVO advances research worldwide into understanding the visual system and preventing, treating and curing its disorders. Learn more at

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Erin Hering