Detection of the optic nerve head (ONH) is a key preprocessing component in algorithms for the automatic extraction of the anatomical structures of the retina. We propose a method to automatically locate the ONH in fundus images of the retina. The method includes edge detection using the Sobel operators and detection of circles using the Hough transform. The Hough transform assists in the detection of the center and radius of a circle that approximates the margin of the ONH. Forty images of the retina from the Digital Retinal Images for Vessel Extraction (DRIVE) dataset were used to test the performance of the proposed method. The center and boundary of the ONH were independently marked by an ophthalmologist for evaluation. Free-response receiver operating characteristics (FROC) analysis as well as measures of distance and overlap were used to evaluate the performance of the proposed method. The centers of the ONH were detected with an average distance of 0.36 mm to the corresponding centers marked by the ophthalmologist; the detected circles had an average overlap of 0.73 with the boundaries of the ONH drawn by the ophthalmologist. FROC analysis indicated a sensitivity of detection of 92.5% at 8.9 false-positives per image. With an intensity-based criterion for the selection of the circle and a limit of 40 pixels (0.8 mm) on the distance between the center of the detected circle and the manually identified center of the ONH, a successful detection rate of 90% was obtained with the DRIVE dataset.
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