OCT-Based Cell Count May Be Viable Biomarker for Inflammation

Ophthalmology office.
Ophthalmology office. Masked patient and doctor – Covid 19. Scan of the retina, an examination that allows you to precisely visualize the different parts of the eye. This imaging makes it possible to observe the retina in order to detect, for example, a retinal uplift with edema or a diabetic retinopathy. It is used to monitor wet AMD about every two months and complements the fundus to see if an injection of treatment is needed. OCT is also used to examine the optic nerve, and therefore screen for or monitor glaucoma. (Photo by: Pascal Bachelet/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
An automated cell counter can distinguish between active and inactive uveitis, according to presenters at the AAO.

This article is part of Ophthalmology Advisor’s Focus on Retina coverage from the 2021 meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, held in New Orleans from November 12 to 15, 2021. The team at Ophthalmology Advisor will be reporting on a variety of the research presented by the retinal experts at the AAO. Check back for more from the AAO 2021 Meeting.


An automated optical coherence tomography (OCT) cell counter has potential to be used as a biomarker for inflammation in uveitis patients, according to data presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2021 annual meeting, held in New Orleans from November 12-15. 

Researchers sought to measure longitudinal changes in uveitic vitreous cells and haze using OCT images which were collected from 500 patients with uveitis who experienced active uveitis, resolving uveitis, and quiet uveitis. The images encompassed the macula or the active focus of inflammation. The images were segmented for the vitreous space as well as the retinal pigment epithelial layer and were processed by using an open-source software developed on the MATLAB platform. The software allowed researchers to automatically count cells by using a template-matching algorithm that detected elements matching circularity, gray-scale intensity, and dimension weighted thresholds. 

To validate the automated OCT approach, 2 uveitis specialists also manually counted cells. 

There was good agreement between the manual graders and the OCT algorithm (κ = 0.92). In addition, the algorithm detected significantly fewer cells from each patient between active and inactive uveitis. 

“Automated OCT cell count can eventually become an objective suitable biomarker for posterior chamber intraocular inflammation,” concluded the investigators. 

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Pichi F, Zicarelli F, Cimino L, Agarwal AK, Staurenghi G, Invernizzi A. Automated longitudinal oct objective quantification of vitreous cells. Paper presented at: The American Academy of Ophthalmology 2021 Annual Meeting; November 12-15, 2021; New Orleans. Abstract PA007.