Reliable and efficient optic disk localization and segmentation are important tasks in automated retinal screening. General-purpose edge detection algorithms often fail to segment the optic disk due to fuzzy boundaries, inconsistent image contrast or missing edge features. This paper presents an algorithm for the localization and segmentation of the optic nerve head boundary in low-resolution images (about 20 /spl mu//pixel). Optic disk localization is achieved using specialized template matching, and segmentation by a deformable contour model. The latter uses a global elliptical model and a local deformable model with variable edge-strength dependent stiffness. The algorithm is evaluated against a randomly selected database of 100 images from a diabetic screening programme. Ten images were classified as unusable; the others were of variable quality. The localization algorithm succeeded on all bar one usable image; the contour estimation algorithm was qualitatively assessed by an ophthalmologist as having Excellent-Fair performance in 83% of cases, and performs well even on blurred image
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