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Br J Ophthalmol. 2004 Nov;88(11):1434-8.

Incremental nature of anterior eye grading scales determined by objective image analysis.

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Neurosciences Research Institute, Aston University, Aston Triangle, Birmingham B4 7ET, UK.



To use previously validated image analysis techniques to determine the incremental nature of printed subjective anterior eye grading scales.


A purpose designed computer program was written to detect edges using a 3 x 3 kernal and to extract colour planes in the selected area of an image. Annunziato and Efron pictorial, and CCLRU and Vistakon-Synoptik photographic grades of bulbar hyperaemia, palpebral hyperaemia roughness, and corneal staining were analysed.


The increments of the grading scales were best described by a quadratic rather than a linear function. Edge detection and colour extraction image analysis for bulbar hyperaemia (r2 = 0.35-0.99), palpebral hyperaemia (r2 = 0.71-0.99), palpebral roughness (r2 = 0.30-0.94), and corneal staining (r2 = 0.57-0.99) correlated well with scale grades, although the increments varied in magnitude and direction between different scales. Repeated image analysis measures had a 95% confidence interval of between 0.02 (colour extraction) and 0.10 (edge detection) scale units (on a 0-4 scale).


The printed grading scales were more sensitive for grading features of low severity, but grades were not comparable between grading scales. Palpebral hyperaemia and staining grading is complicated by the variable presentations possible. Image analysis techniques are 6-35 times more repeatable than subjective grading, with a sensitivity of 1.2-2.8% of the scale.

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