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Status: Research & Development

Fractal geometry in the diagnosis of eye diseases

Already back in the 1990s, Dr. Daxer – who was then still a resident at the University Hospital of Innsbruck – began dedicating his research to artificial intelligence in ophthalmology, in particular automated diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy. He was able to present basic research findings which demonstrated that proliferative diabetic retinopathy can be diagnosed automatically by using fractal analysis. Blindness as a result of proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the second most common complication of diabetes mellitus (diabetes) after kidney failure. Early diagnosis of this retinal disease enables effective treatment and is therefore extremely important. The detection rate of diabetic retinopathy requiring ophthalmological treatment is clearly below 90%. Artificial intelligence for the automated diagnosis of eye diseases requiring treatment is therefore an important field of research and development at DIOPTEX.

At school, we learned about the concept of Euclidean geometry, according to which the world around us is three-dimensional. As a matter of fact, however, structures in nature display self-similarity across several orders of magnitude and broken dimensions (fractal dimension). The below graph shows the analysis of the fractal dimension of retinal vascular changes (NVD) requiring treatment with high risk of blindness in the context of diabetic retinopathy in diabetic patients. "Control" relates to healthy eyes.

Scientific literature

1. Daxer A (1992) Fractals and retinal vessels. Lancet 339:618.

2. Daxer A (1993) Characterisation of the neovascularisation process in diabetic retinopathy by means of fractal geometry: diagnostic implications. Graefe's Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol 231:681-686.

3. Daxer A (1993) The fractal geometry of proliferative diabetic retinopathy: implications for the diagnosis and the process of retinal vasculogenesis. Curr Eye Res 12:1103-1109.

4. Daxer A (1995) Mechanisms in retinal vasculogenesis: an analysis of the spatial branching site correlation. Curr Eye Res 14:251-254.

5. Daxer A, Ettl A (1995) Corneal vascularisation and its relation to the physical properties of the tissue: a fractal analysis. Curr Eye Res 14:263-268.