An accurate assessment of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is essential in ensuring correct and timely treatment of this potentially blinding condition. Current modes of assessment are based upon clinical grading by expert examination of retinal changes. However, this may be subjective, unreliable and difficult and there has been significant interest in alternative means of measurement. These have been made possible through technological advancements in image capture and analysis as well as progress in clinical research, highlighting the specific importance of plus disease in ROP. Progress in these two fields has highlighted the potential for digital image analysis of plus disease to be used as an objective, reliable and valid measurement of ROP. The potential for clinical and scientific advancement through this method is argued and demonstrated in this article. Along with the potential benefits, there are significant challenges such as in image capture, segmentation, measurement of vessel width and tortuosity; these are also addressed. After discussing and explaining the challenges involved, the research articles addressing digital image analysis of ROP are critically reviewed. Benefits and limitations of the currently published techniques for digital ROP assessment are discussed with particular reference to the validity and reliability of outcome measures. Finally, the general limitations of current methods of analysis are discussed and more diverse potential areas of development are discussed.
- Vessel measurement