Research Highlight

New technique to identify diseased retina  

doi:10.1038/nindia.2016.169 Published online 24 December 2016

Researchers have developed an analytical method that can be used to distinguish diseased retinal tissues from healthy ones1. This method will be useful for detecting tissue abnormalities in the human eye and other organs. 

Optical coherence tomography is an imaging technique widely used to diagnose diseases related to heart, oral cavity and other organs. This method is also used to monitor disease-related thickness changes in the human retina. But, measuring thickness cannot capture subtle morphological changes in early disease progression.  

To overcome this drawback, scientists from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Kolkata, L. V. Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai developed an modified version of computer code known as multifractal detrended fluctuation analysis. They used this advanced version to extract minute tissue patterns from images of diseased and healthy retinas.    

Biological tissues contain certain complex repeating patterns called multifractals. Using the code, the researchers found that the strength of multifractality was significantly higher in diseased retinal layers than in healthy layers. The results showed the potential of multifractal analysis for the early detection of human eye diseases, such as diabetic macular edema in which high blood pressure damages blood vessels, leaking fluid in the eye.

“This technique may also be used to diagnose other types of tissue abnormalities in future. There is also the possibility of a smart phone-based retinal diagnostic app,” says co-researcher Sabyasachi Mukhopadhyay from IISER, Kolkata.


1. Das, N. K. et al. Investigation of alterations in multifractality in optical coherence tomographic images of in vivo human retina. J. Biomed. Opt. 21, 096004 (2016)