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Developing a privacy-preserving deep learning model for glaucoma detection: a multicentre study with federated learning.

BACKGROUND: Deep learning (DL) is promising to detect glaucoma. However, patients' privacy and data security are major concerns when pooling all data for model development. We developed a privacy-preserving DL model using the federated learning (FL) paradigm to detect glaucoma from optical coherence tomography (OCT) images.

METHODS: This is a multicentre study. The FL paradigm consisted of a 'central server' and seven eye centres in Hong Kong, the USA and Singapore. Each centre first trained a model locally with its own OCT optic disc volumetric dataset and then uploaded its model parameters to the central server. The central server used FedProx algorithm to aggregate all centres' model parameters. Subsequently, the aggregated parameters are redistributed to each centre for its local model optimisation. We experimented with three three-dimensional (3D) networks to evaluate the stabilities of the FL paradigm. Lastly, we tested the FL model on two prospectively collected unseen datasets.

RESULTS: We used 9326 volumetric OCT scans from 2785 subjects. The FL model performed consistently well with different networks in 7 centres (accuracies 78.3%-98.5%, 75.9%-97.0%, and 78.3%-97.5%, respectively) and stably in the 2 unseen datasets (accuracies 84.8%-87.7%, 81.3%-84.8%, and 86.0%-87.8%, respectively). The FL model achieved non-inferior performance in classifying glaucoma compared with the traditional model and significantly outperformed the individual models.

CONCLUSION: The 3D FL model could leverage all the datasets and achieve generalisable performance, without data exchange across centres. This study demonstrated an OCT-based FL paradigm for glaucoma identification with ensured patient privacy and data security, charting another course toward the real-world transition of artificial intelligence in ophthalmology.

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