Federated Learning for Multicenter Collaboration in Ophthalmology: Implications for Clinical Diagnosis and Disease Epidemiology

Imaging and Informatics in Retinopathy of Prematurity Consortium

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: To utilize a deep learning (DL) model trained via federated learning (FL), a method of collaborative training without sharing patient data, to delineate institutional differences in clinician diagnostic paradigms and disease epidemiology in retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Design: Evaluation of a diagnostic test or technology. Subjects and Controls: We included 5245 patients with wide-angle retinal imaging from the neonatal intensive care units of 7 institutions as part of the Imaging and Informatics in ROP study. Images were labeled with the clinical diagnoses of plus disease (plus, preplus, no plus), which were documented in the chart, and a reference standard diagnosis was determined by 3 image-based ROP graders and the clinical diagnosis. Methods: Demographics (birth weight, gestational age) and clinical diagnoses for all eye examinations were recorded from each institution. Using an FL approach, a DL model for plus disease classification was trained using only the clinical labels. The 3 class probabilities were then converted into a vascular severity score (VSS) for each eye examination, as well as an “institutional VSS,” in which the average of the VSS values assigned to patients’ higher severity (“worse”) eyes at each examination was calculated for each institution. Main Outcome Measures: We compared demographics, clinical diagnoses of plus disease, and institutional VSSs between institutions using the McNemar–Bowker test, 2-proportion Z test, and 1-way analysis of variance with post hoc analysis by the Tukey–Kramer test. Single regression analysis was performed to explore the relationship between demographics and VSSs. Results: We found that the proportion of patients diagnosed with preplus disease varied significantly between institutions (P < 0.001). Using the DL-derived VSS trained on the data from all institutions using FL, we observed differences in the institutional VSS and the level of vascular severity diagnosed as no plus (P < 0.001) across institutions. A significant, inverse relationship between the institutional VSS and mean gestational age was found (P = 0.049, adjusted R2 = 0.49). Conclusions: A DL-derived ROP VSS developed without sharing data between institutions using FL identified differences in the clinical diagnoses of plus disease and overall levels of ROP severity between institutions. Federated learning may represent a method to standardize clinical diagnoses and provide objective measurements of disease for image-based diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)650-656
Number of pages7
JournalOphthalmology Retina
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Deep learning
  • Epidemiology
  • Federated learning
  • Retinopathy of prematurity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


Dive into the research topics of 'Federated Learning for Multicenter Collaboration in Ophthalmology: Implications for Clinical Diagnosis and Disease Epidemiology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this