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Iliya V. Ivanov, Martin A. Leitritz, Lars A. Norrenberg, Michael Völker, Marek Dynowski, Marius Ueffing, Johannes Dietter; Human Vision–Motivated Algorithm Allows Consistent Retinal Vessel Classification Based on Local Color Contrast for Advancing General Diagnostic Exams. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(2):731-738. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.15-17831.
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Abnormalities of blood vessel anatomy, morphology, and ratio can serve as important diagnostic markers for retinal diseases such as AMD or diabetic retinopathy. Large cohort studies demand automated and quantitative image analysis of vascular abnormalities. Therefore, we developed an analytical software tool to enable automated standardized classification of blood vessels supporting clinical reading.
A dataset of 61 images was collected from a total of 33 women and 8 men with a median age of 38 years. The pupils were not dilated, and images were taken after dark adaption. In contrast to current methods in which classification is based on vessel profile intensity averages, and similar to human vision, local color contrast was chosen as a discriminator to allow artery vein discrimination and arterial–venous ratio (AVR) calculation without vessel tracking.
With 83% ± 1 standard error of the mean for our dataset, we achieved best classification for weighted lightness information from a combination of the red, green, and blue channels. Tested on an independent dataset, our method reached 89% correct classification, which, when benchmarked against conventional ophthalmologic classification, shows significantly improved classification scores.
Our study demonstrates that vessel classification based on local color contrast can cope with inter- or intraimage lightness variability and allows consistent AVR calculation. We offer an open-source implementation of this method upon request, which can be integrated into existing tool sets and applied to general diagnostic exams.
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