Automated Quality Assessment of Colour Fundus Images for Diabetic Retinopathy Screening in Telemedicine


Fundus images obtained in a telemedicine program are acquired at different sites that are captured by people who have varying levels of experience. These result in a relatively high percentage of images which are later marked as unreadable by graders. Unreadable images require a recapture which is time and cost intensive. An automated method that determines the image quality during acquisition is an effective alternative. To determine the image quality during acquisition, we describe here an automated method for the assessment of image quality in the context of diabetic retinopathy. The method explicitly applies machine learning techniques to access the image and to determine ‘accept’ and ‘reject’ categories. ‘Reject’ category image requires a recapture. A deep convolution neural network is trained to grade the images automatically. A large representative set of 7000 colour fundus images was used for the experiment which was obtained from the EyePACS that were made available by the California Healthcare Foundation. Three retinal image analysis experts were employed to categorise these images into ‘accept’ and ‘reject’ classes based on the precise definition of image quality in the context of DR. The network was trained using 3428 images. The method shows an accuracy of 100% to successfully categorise ‘accept’ and ‘reject’ images, which is about 2% higher than the traditional machine learning method. On a clinical trial, the proposed method shows 97% agreement with human grader. The method can be easily incorporated with the fundus image capturing system in the acquisition centre and can guide the photographer whether a recapture is necessary or not.

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Correspondence to Sajib Kumar Saha.

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Saha, S.K., Fernando, B., Cuadros, J. et al. Automated Quality Assessment of Colour Fundus Images for Diabetic Retinopathy Screening in Telemedicine. J Digit Imaging 31, 869–878 (2018).

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  • Automated quality assessment
  • Colour fundus image
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Telemedicine
  • Deep learning