The fractal properties of the retinal vascular architecture

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Abstract

Purpose

The human retinal vasculature has been demonstrated to exhibit fractal, or statistically self similar properties. Fractal analysis offers a simple quantitative method to characterise the complexity of the branching vessel network in the retina. Several methods have been proposed to quantify the fractal properties of the retina.

Methods

Twenty five healthy volunteers underwent retinal photography, retinal oximetry and ocular biometry. A robust method to evaluate the fractal properties of the retinal vessels is proposed; it consists of manual vessel segmentation and box counting of 50 degree retinal photographs centred on the fovea.

Results

Data is presented on the associations between the fractal properties of the retinal vessels and various functional properties of the retina.

Conclusion

Fractal properties of the retina could offer a promising tool to assess the risk and prognostic factors that define retinal disease. Outstanding efforts surround the need to adopt a standardised protocol for assessing the fractal properties of the retina, and further demonstrate its association with disease processes.

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