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Artificial Intelligence for Ocular Imaging: An Eye on Vision-robbing, Neurodegenerative, and Systemic Diseases

Project ID: 2228cc1453 (You will need this ID for your application)

Under Offer

Research Theme: Healthcare Technologies

UCL Lead department: Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering

Department Website

Lead Supervisor: Marinko Sarunic

Industry partner: Optos

Stipend enhancement: £2,000 pa

Project Summary:

The eyes are an extension of the brain and a window to the whole body. Imaging the back of the eye, the light sensitive tissue called the retina, is performed routinely at check-ups and vision tests. Recently, machine learning (ML) methods have been used to show that these images of the eye’s neuronal tissue and microvasculature can reveal information of a person’s overall health, including factors such as risk of cardiovascular disease and ‘biological age’. The information rich ocular images contain a wealth of information that motivates the development of new tools for the identification of novel biomarkers. This project will initially focus on a vision robbing disease called glaucoma, a neurodegenerative disease of the eye. Referred to as the ‘sneak thief of sight’, glaucoma progresses very slowly, and often goes unnoticed until significant irreversible vision loss has occurred. Our goal is to investigate ML methods to identify risk factors for glaucoma based on ocular images and to investigate the prediction of response to treatment. The data to be used for this project are Optomap images, which capture ultrawide field pictures of the retina. The student will develop ML approaches to investigate classification of the Optomap images for patients with glaucoma and to identify the features that the networks use in making the predication (‘explainable AI’). Our team has a wealth of data (thousands of labelled patient Optomap images) available to initiate the study. Our research team is a uniquely multidisciplinary group of engineers and computer scientists at UCL working closely with ophthalmologists at Moorfields Eye Hospital. This research project will be in collaboration with the research and development team at Optos Inc, a world leading provider of ocular imaging instrumentation and analysis tools, and the provider of the Optomap.