Generative adversarial networks in ophthalmology: what are these and how can they be used? : Current Opinion in Ophthalmology

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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN RETINA: Edited by Judy E. Kim and Ehsan Rahimy

Generative adversarial networks in ophthalmology: what are these and how can they be used?

Wang, Zhaorana,∗; Lim, Gilberta,b,∗; Ng, Wei Yana,b; Keane, Pearse A.c; Campbell, J. Peterd; Tan, Gavin Siew Weia,b; Schmetterer, Leopolda,b,e,f,g,h,i; Wong, Tien Yina,b; Liu, Yongc; Ting, Daniel Shu Weia,b

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Current Opinion in Ophthalmology 32(5):p 459-467, September 2021. | DOI: 10.1097/ICU.0000000000000794


Purpose of review 

The development of deep learning (DL) systems requires a large amount of data, which may be limited by costs, protection of patient information and low prevalence of some conditions. Recent developments in artificial intelligence techniques have provided an innovative alternative to this challenge via the synthesis of biomedical images within a DL framework known as generative adversarial networks (GANs). This paper aims to introduce how GANs can be deployed for image synthesis in ophthalmology and to discuss the potential applications of GANs-produced images.

Recent findings 

Image synthesis is the most relevant function of GANs to the medical field, and it has been widely used for generating ‘new’ medical images of various modalities. In ophthalmology, GANs have mainly been utilized for augmenting classification and predictive tasks, by synthesizing fundus images and optical coherence tomography images with and without pathologies such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Despite their ability to generate high-resolution images, the development of GANs remains data intensive, and there is a lack of consensus on how best to evaluate the outputs produced by GANs.


Although the problem of artificial biomedical data generation is of great interest, image synthesis by GANs represents an innovation with yet unclear relevance for ophthalmology.

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