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Machine learning to determine relative contribution of modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors of major eye diseases


Aims To use machine learning (ML) to determine the relative contributions of modifiable and non-modifiable clinical, metabolic, genetic, lifestyle and socioeconomic factors on the risk of major eye diseases.

Methods We conducted analyses in a cross-sectional multi-ethnic population-based study (n=10 033 participants) and determined a range of modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors of common eye diseases, including diabetic retinopathy (DR), non-diabetic-related retinopathy (NDR); early and late age-related macular degeneration (AMD); nuclear, cortical and posterior subcapsular (PSC) cataract; and primary open-angle (POAG) and primary angle-closure glaucoma (PACG). Risk factors included individual characteristics, metabolic profiles, genetic background, lifestyle patterns and socioeconomic status (n~100 risk factors). We used gradient boosting machine to estimate the relative influence (RI) of each risk factor.

Results Among the range of risk factors studied, the highest contributions were duration of diabetes for DR (RI=22.1%), and alcohol consumption for NDR (RI=6.4%). For early and late AMD, genetic background (RI~20%) and age (RI~15%) contributed the most. Axial length was the main risk factor of PSC (RI=30.8%). For PACG, socioeconomic factor (mainly educational level) had the highest influence (20%). POAG was the disease with the highest contribution of modifiable risk factors (cumulative RI~35%), followed by PACG (cumulative RI ~30%), retinopathy (cumulative RI between 20% and 30%) and late AMD (cumulative RI ~20%).

Conclusion This study illustrates the utility of ML in identifying factors with the highest contributions. Risk factors possibly amenable to interventions were intraocular pressure (IOP) and Body Mass Index (BMI) for glaucoma, alcohol consumption for NDR and levels of HbA1c for DR.

  • Epidemiology
  • Public health
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