Study Finds "Red Color Channel" Could Aid In Diabetic Eye Disease Screening
Photographs of the eye are often used in diabetes-related eye disease. Research suggests that separating out the red color channel in these photos could help highlight some abnormalities associated with diabetic eye disease, especially in racial/ethnic minority patients. The study was published in Optometry and Vision Science, the journal of the American Academy of Optometry.
The long-wavelength (red channel) reflected light channel can improve the ability to detect diabetic macular edema. This is commonly known as "diabetic blindness," a diabetic complication that may be prevented if found early. Finding this disease in racial and ethnic minorities, however, can be difficult due to deeper eye pigmentation at the back of the eye.
Separating the red channel can lighten those pigmentations, making finding abnormalities easier.
Macular edema is a fluid accumulation in the retina that happens when blood vessels in the back of the eye leak. This is a leading cause of diabetic blindness.
The researchers looked at 2,047 adult eye photographs in standard color fundus; all of which were diagnosed with diabetes. About ninety percent of them self-identified as a racial/ethnic minority (non-white). The photographs found 148 patients with significant macular edema. Thirteen of those patients had "cystoid" patterns in their macular edema, a major cause of severe central vision loss.
Comparing those to the same photographs with the red and then green wavelengths filtered found that the fundus in 12 of those 13 patients were more highlighted and much easier to see with the red wavelength removed. By contrast, five of the 13 were not visible at all when the green (shorter wavelength) channel was removed.