An Objective and Easy-to-Use Glaucoma Functional Severity Staging System Based on Artificial Intelligence

Xiaoqin Huang, Fatemeh Saki, Mengyu Wang, Tobias Elze, Michael V. Boland, Louis R. Pasquale, Chris A. Johnson, Siamak Yousefi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of this study was to develop an objective and easy-to-use glaucoma staging system based on visual fields (VFs). Subjects and Participants: A total of 13,231 VFs from 8077 subjects were used to develop models and 8024 VFs from 4445 subjects were used to validate models. Methods: We developed an unsupervised machine learning model to identify clusters with similar VF values. We annotated the clusters based on their respective mean deviation (MD). We computed optimal MD thresholds that discriminate clusters with the highest accuracy based on Bayes minimum error principle. We evaluated the accuracy of the staging system and validated findings based on an independent validation dataset. Results: The unsupervised k-means algorithm discovered 4 clusters with 6784, 4034, 1541, and 872 VFs and average MDs of 0.0 dB (±1.4: SD), -4.8 dB (±1.9), -12.2 dB (±2.9), and -23.0 dB (±3.8), respectively. The supervised Bayes minimum error classifier identified optimal MD thresholds of -2.2, -8.0, and -17.3 dB for discriminating normal eyes and eyes at the early, moderate, and advanced stages of glaucoma. The accuracy of the glaucoma staging system was 94%, based on identified MD thresholds with respect to the initial k-means clusters. Conclusions: We discovered that 4 severity levels based on MD thresholds of -2.2, -8.0, and -17.3 dB, provides the optimal number of severity stages based on unsupervised and supervised machine learning. This glaucoma staging system is unbiased, objective, easy-to-use, and consistent, which makes it highly suitable for use in glaucoma research and for day-to-day clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-633
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Glaucoma
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • artificial intelligence
  • clustering
  • glaucoma staging
  • glaucomatous visual field loss
  • unsupervised machine learning


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