Analysis of Smartphone Images for Vision Screening of Refractive Errors

Student thesis: MPhil


Refractive error is the most common of visual impairments and impacts millions of people globally. Regular vision screening is the recommended best strategy to ensure timely diagnosis and treatment, however, many people do not have access to optometric care and a comprehensive vision examination is inaccessible to many people. There is therefore a need for fast, low­cost and easily­operate vision screen­ ing approaches. In this thesis, we aim to investigate the possibility of conducting photorefraction, a common vision screening procedure, on the mobile platform, to address the challenge.
Our approach exploits machine learning algorithms and computer vision techniques. Starting from principles from optometry and prior studies, we create sev­eral hand­crafted features corresponding detection methods. The experiment re­sults indicate that our detection methods outperform contemporary approaches, leading to a better performance of refractive error measurement and amblyopia risk factor detection. We then move on to pre­trained features extracted by convo­lutional neural networks (CNN). We employ the convolutional layers from multiple pre­trained CNN models to encode features and train machine learning models to predict the refractive error. The experiments show promising results, even though the CNN models were not trained on photorefraction datasets.

Given these encouraging results, we further investigate the possibility of data augmentation. One of our challenges is that it is not possible to collect a large amount of data which is enough to train a well ­performing CNN model from scratch. Therefore, we investigate the use of synthetic data for augmentation. We develop a model of the eye based on the principle of photorefraction, and use it to generate synthetic pupil images with pre­determined refractive errors. Evaluation results show that models trained on these synthetic pupil images can achieve similar per­formance as real images on multiple experiments, which provides solid evidence for the correctness of our photorefraction model.
We finally apply transfer learning to solve the insufficient data issue. CNN models pre­trained on large ­scale public image datasets are finetuned with photore­fraction images and the experiments results show large improvement. The CNN models are then trained on more than 10,000 images of synthetic eyes generated via our eye model, and finetuned using real images, achieving performances that outperform all of the previous models. These results support the feasibility of the proposed photorefraction model, and provides a novel direction to obtain training data, which may be extensible to other similar domains.
Date of Award2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorGrace Ngai (Supervisor)

Cite this