Diabetic macular edema (DME) is the leading cause of vision loss in people with diabetes. Application of artificial intelligence (AI) in interpreting fundus photography (FP) and optical coherence tomography (OCT) images allows prompt detection and intervention.


To evaluate the performance of AI in detecting DME from FP or OCT images and identify potential factors affecting model performances.


We searched seven electronic libraries up to 12 February 2023.


We included studies using AI to detect DME from FP or OCT images.


We extracted study characteristics and performance parameters.


Fifty-three studies were included in the meta-analysis. FP-based algorithms of 25 studies yielded pooled area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC), sensitivity, and specificity of 0.964, 92.6%, and 91.1%, respectively. OCT-based algorithms of 28 studies yielded pooled AUROC, sensitivity, and specificity of 0.985, 95.9%, and 97.9%, respectively. Potential factors improving model performance included deep learning techniques, larger size, and more diversity in training data sets. Models demonstrated better performance when validated internally than externally, and those trained with multiple data sets showed better results upon external validation.


Analyses were limited by unstandardized algorithm outcomes and insufficient data in patient demographics, OCT volumetric scans, and external validation.


This meta-analysis demonstrates satisfactory performance of AI in detecting DME from FP or OCT images. External validation is warranted for future studies to evaluate model generalizability. Further investigations may estimate optimal sample size, effect of class balance, patient demographics, and additional benefits of OCT volumetric scans.

This article contains supplementary material online at

PROSPERO reg. no. CRD4202127609,

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