Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative disorder of the central parts of the retina, which mainly affects older people and leads to permanent loss of vision in advanced stages of the disease. AMD grading of non-advanced AMD patients allows risk assessment for the development of advanced AMD and enables timely treatment of patients, to prevent vision loss. AMD grading is currently performed manually on color fundus images, which is time consuming and expensive. In this paper, we propose a supervised classification method to distinguish high risk AMD patients from low risk AMD patients and provide an exact AMD stage determination. The method is based on the analysis of the number and size of drusen on color fundus images, as drusen are the early characteristics of AMD. An automatic drusen detection algorithm is used to detect all drusen. A weighted histogram of the detected drusen is constructed to summarize the drusen extension and size and fed into a random forest classifier in order to separate low risk from high risk patients and to allow exact AMD stage determination. Experiments show the proposed method achieved similar performance as human observers in distinguishing low risk from high risk AMD patients, obtaining areas under the Receiver Operating Characteristic curve of 0.929 and 0.934. A weighted kappa agreement of 0.641 and 0.622 versus two observers were obtained for AMD stage evaluation. Our method allows for quick and reliable AMD staging at low costs.
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