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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2005 Apr;46(4):1322-9.

Relevance vector machine and support vector machine classifier analysis of scanning laser polarimetry retinal nerve fiber layer measurements.

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  • 1Hamilton Glaucoma Center, University of California, San Diego, California, USA. cbowd@eyecenter.ucsd.edu



To classify healthy and glaucomatous eyes using relevance vector machine (RVM) and support vector machine (SVM) learning classifiers trained on retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness measurements obtained by scanning laser polarimetry (SLP).


Seventy-two eyes of 72 healthy control subjects (average age = 64.3 +/- 8.8 years, visual field mean deviation = -0.71 +/- 1.2 dB) and 92 eyes of 92 patients with glaucoma (average age = 66.9 +/- 8.9 years, visual field mean deviation = -5.32 +/- 4.0 dB) were imaged with SLP with variable corneal compensation (GDx VCC; Laser Diagnostic Technologies, San Diego, CA). RVM and SVM learning classifiers were trained and tested on SLP-determined RNFL thickness measurements from 14 standard parameters and 64 sectors (approximately 5.6 degrees each) obtained in the circumpapillary area under the instrument-defined measurement ellipse (total 78 parameters). Ten-fold cross-validation was used to train and test RVM and SVM classifiers on unique subsets of the full 164-eye data set and areas under the receiver operating characteristic (AUROC) curve for the classification of eyes in the test set were generated. AUROC curve results from RVM and SVM were compared to those for 14 SLP software-generated global and regional RNFL thickness parameters. Also reported was the AUROC curve for the GDx VCC software-generated nerve fiber indicator (NFI).


The AUROC curves for RVM and SVM were 0.90 and 0.91, respectively, and increased to 0.93 and 0.94 when the training sets were optimized with sequential forward and backward selection (resulting in reduced dimensional data sets). AUROC curves for optimized RVM and SVM were significantly larger than those for all individual SLP parameters. The AUROC curve for the NFI was 0.87.


Results from RVM and SVM trained on SLP RNFL thickness measurements are similar and provide accurate classification of glaucomatous and healthy eyes. RVM may be preferable to SVM, because it provides a Bayesian-derived probability of glaucoma as an output. These results suggest that these machine learning classifiers show good potential for glaucoma diagnosis.

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