n South African Computer Journal - Segmentation of retinal blood vessels using normalized Gabor filters and automatic thresholding




Although computerized retinal image blood vessel segmentation has been extensively researched, there is still room for improvement in the quality of the segmented images. Since retinal image analysis is still widely used in the diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy, efficient and accurate image characterization techniques are required. Previous work has mainly focused on improving segmentation accuracy rates with little regard to the false positives that are produced by illumination variation. This research work presents a hybrid approach towards the segmentation of retinal blood vessels. New approaches towards the reduction of background illumination variation are proposed using normalized Gabor filtering. These are the base-offset encoding and a modified version of an existing zero-integral kernel technique. The valley emphasis automatic thresholding scheme is used to segment the Gabor response images. Experiments are conducted on the DRIVE and STARE retinal image data sets. Accuracy rates of up to 94% are achieved through the zero-integral and base offset methods. This is comparable with results from literature, where the same data sets are segmented using other classification techniques. The median-offset method is found to most effectively reduce background illumination variation.


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