Translational Vision Science & Technology, February 2020


Recently, laser refractive surgery options, including laser epithelial keratomileusis, laser in situ keratomileusis, and small incision lenticule extraction, successfully improved patients’ quality of life. Evidence-based recommendation for an optimal surgery technique is valuable in increasing patient satisfaction. We developed an interpretable multiclass machine learning model that selects the laser surgery option on the expert level.


A multiclass XGBoost model was constructed to classify patients into four categories including laser epithelial keratomileusis, laser in situ keratomileusis, small incision lenticule extraction, and contraindication groups. The analysis included 18,480 subjects who intended to undergo refractive surgery at the B&VIIT Eye center. Training (n = 10,561) and internal validation (n = 2640) were performed using subjects who visited between 2016 and 2017. The model was trained based on clinical decisions of highly experienced experts and ophthalmic measurements. External validation (n = 5279) was conducted using subjects who visited in 2018. The SHapley Additive ex-Planations technique was adopted to explain the output of the XGBoost model.


The multiclass XGBoost model exhibited an accuracy of 81.0% and 78.9% when tested on the internal and external validation datasets, respectively. The SHapley Additive ex-Planations explanations for the results were consistent with prior knowledge from ophthalmologists. The explanation from one-versus-one and one-versus-rest XGBoost classifiers was effective for easily understanding users in the multicategorical classification problem.


This study suggests an expert-level multiclass machine learning model for selecting the refractive surgery for patients. It also provided a clinical understanding in a multiclass problem based on an explainable artificial intelligence technique.

Translational Relevance

Explainable machine learning exhibits a promising future for increasing the practical use of artificial intelligence in ophthalmic clinics.