Automated clarity assessment of retinal images using regionally based structural and statistical measures

Alan D Fleming, Sam Philip, Keith A Goatman, Peter F Sharp, John A Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


An automated image analysis system for application in mass medical screening must assess the clarity of the images before analysing their content. This is the case in grading for diabetic retinopathy screening where the failure to assess clarity could result in retinal images of people with retinopathy being erroneously classed as normal. This paper compares methods of clarity assessment based on the degradation of visible structures and based on the deviation of image properties outside expected norms caused by clarity loss. Vessel visibility measures and statistical measures were determined at locations in the image which have high saliency and these were used to obtain an image clarity assessment using supervised classification. The usefulness of the measures as indicators of image clarity was assessed. Tests were performed on 987 disc-centred and macula-centred retinal photographs (347 with inadequate clarity) obtained from the English National Screening Programme. Images with inadequate clarity were detected with 92.6% sensitivity at 90% specificity. In a set of 2000 macula-centred images (200 with inadequate clarity) from the Scottish Screening Programme, inadequate clarity was detected with 96.7% sensitivity at 90% specificity. This study has shown that structural and statistical measures are equally useful for retinal image clarity assessment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849-859
Number of pages11
JournalMedical Engineering & Physics
Issue number7
Early online date29 Oct 2011
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


  • diabetic retinopathy
  • retina
  • photograph
  • image quality
  • medical screening
  • CER
  • clarity evaluation region
  • ROC
  • receiver operator characteristics
  • AUC
  • area under curve


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