Development and international validation of custom-engineered and code-free deep-learning models for detection of plus disease in retinopathy of prematurity: a retrospective study

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a leading cause of childhood blindness, is diagnosed through interval screening by paediatric ophthalmologists. However, improved survival of premature neonates coupled with a scarcity of available experts has raised concerns about the sustainability of this approach. We aimed to develop bespoke and code-free deep learning-based classifiers for plus disease, a hallmark of ROP, in an ethnically diverse population in London, UK, and externally validate them in ethnically, geographically, and socioeconomically diverse populations in four countries and three continents. Code-free deep learning is not reliant on the availability of expertly trained data scientists, thus being of particular potential benefit for low resource health-care settings.