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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2008 Jun;49(6):2512-7. doi: 10.1167/iovs.07-1229. Epub 2008 Mar 7.

Automated assessment of the optic nerve head on stereo disc photographs.

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  • 1UPMC Eye Center, Eye and Ear Institute, Ophthalmology and Visual Science Research Center, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.



To develop automated software for optic nerve head (ONH) quantitative assessment from stereoscopic disc photographs and to evaluate its performance in comparison with human expert assessment.


A fully automated system, including three-dimensional ONH modeling, disc margin detection, cup margin detection, and calculation of stereometric ONH parameters, was developed and tested. One eye each from 54 subjects (23 healthy, 17 suspected glaucoma, and 14 glaucoma) was enrolled. The majority opinion of three experts defined disc and cup margins on the disc photographs was used for comparison. Seven ONH parameters, disc area, rim area, rim volume, cup area, cup volume, cup-to-disc (C/D) area ratio, and vertical C/D ratio, were computed based on both machine- and expert-defined margins and compared between the methods.


All automated ONH measurements showed good correlation with the expert defined margins (Pearson r = 0.90, disc area; 0.56, rim area; 0.78, rim volume; 0.88, cup area; 0.93, cup volume; 0.69, C/D area ratio; and 0.67, vertical C/D ratio; all P <or= 0.0001). No statistically significant difference was found in the glaucoma-discriminating ability of all seven ONH parameters (P >or= 0.21). The mean or median of automatically defined disc and cup areas was significantly higher than the subjective assessment (disc area P = 0.0001, t-test; cup area P = 0.036, Wilcoxon signed ranks test), although they had high correlation coefficients. The software failed to detect the disc margin for all the disc photographs with peripapillary atrophy.


The automated ONH analysis method provides an objective and quantitative ONH evaluation using widely available stereo disc photographs.

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