Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a leading cause of childhood blindness. Screening and treatment reduces this risk, but requires multiple examinations of infants, most of whom will not develop severe disease. Previous work has suggested that artificial intelligence may be able to detect incident severe disease (treatment-requiring retinopathy of prematurity [TR-ROP]) before clinical diagnosis. We aimed to build a risk model that combined artificial intelligence with clinical demographics to reduce the number of examinations without missing cases of TR-ROP.
Infants undergoing routine ROP screening examinations (1579 total eyes, 190 with TR-ROP) were recruited from 8 North American study centers. A vascular severity score (VSS) was derived from retinal fundus images obtained at 32 to 33 weeks’ postmenstrual age. Seven ElasticNet logistic regression models were trained on all combinations of birth weight, gestational age, and VSS. The area under the precision-recall curve was used to identify the highest-performing model.
The gestational age + VSS model had the highest performance (mean ± SD area under the precision-recall curve: 0.35 ± 0.11). On 2 different test data sets (n = 444 and n = 132), sensitivity was 100% (positive predictive value: 28.1% and 22.6%) and specificity was 48.9% and 80.8% (negative predictive value: 100.0%).
Using a single examination, this model identified all infants who developed TR-ROP, on average, >1 month before diagnosis with moderate to high specificity. This approach could lead to earlier identification of incident severe ROP, reducing late diagnosis and treatment while simultaneously reducing the number of ROP examinations and unnecessary physiologic stress for low-risk infants.