To investigate whether cysts in diabetic macular edema are better visualized in the red channel of color fundus camera images, as compared with the green channel, because color fundus camera screening methods that emphasize short-wavelength light may miss cysts in patients with dark fundi or changes to outer blood retinal barrier.Methods
Fundus images for diabetic retinopathy photoscreening were acquired for a study with Aeon Imaging, EyePACS, University of California Berkeley, and Indiana University. There were 2047 underserved, adult diabetic patients, of whom over 90% self-identified as a racial/ethnic identify other than non-Hispanic white. Color fundus images at nominally 45 degrees were acquired with a Canon Cr-DGi non-mydriatic camera (Tokyo, Japan) then graded by an EyePACS certified grader. From the 148 patients graded to have clinically significant macular edema by the presence of hard exudates in the central 1500 μm of the fovea, we evaluated macular cysts in 13 patients with cystoid macular edema. Age ranged from 33 to 68 years. Color fundus images were split into red, green, and blue channels with custom Matlab software (Mathworks, Natick, MA). The diameter of a cyst or confluent cysts was quantified in the red-channel and green-channel images separately.Results
Cyst identification gave complete agreement between red-channel images and the standard full-color images. This was not the case for green-channel images, which did not expose cysts visible with standard full-color images in five cases, who had dark fundi. Cysts appeared more numerous and covered a larger area in the red channel (733 ± 604 μm) than in the green channel (349 ± 433 μm, P < .006).Conclusions
Cysts may be underdetected with the present fundus camera methods, particularly when short-wavelength light is emphasized or in patients with dark fundi. Longer wavelength techniques may improve the detection of cysts and provide more information concerning the early stages of diabetic macular edema or the outer blood retinal barrier.