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Colour versus grey-scale display of images on high-resolution spectral OCT
  1. M Brar1,
  2. D-U G Bartsch1,
  3. N Nigam1,
  4. F Mojana1,
  5. L Gomez1,2,
  6. L Cheng1,
  7. J Hedaya1,
  8. W R Freeman1
  1. 1
    Department of Ophthalmology, University of California, San Diego, Shiley Eye Center, La Jolla, California, USA
  2. 2
    Department of Ophthalmology, Institute of Ophthalmic Subspecialties (ISEO), Tijuana, Mexico
  1. Dr W R Freeman, University of California, San Diego Department of Ophthalmology, Shiley Eye Center, 0946, Joan and Irwin Jacobs Retina Center, 9415 Campus Point Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA; freeman{at}


Aim: To determine whether colour or grey-scale images from high-resolution spectral optical coherence tomography (OCT) are superior in visualising clinically important details of retinal structures.

Methods: Patients with macular pathologies were imaged using spectral OCT (OTI, Toronto, Canada). Two reviewers independently analysed the retinal structures and pathologies and graded them on a four-point scale on the basis of the visibility. A third reviewer masked to the results then reviewed images where there was a different score for colour versus grey scale.

Results: Statistical analysis showed the grey-scale image to be significantly better in visualising the details of epiretinal membrane, photoreceptor and retinal pigment epithelium layer morphology than the colour scale image (p = 0.00088–0.0006). In 16.17% of eyes, the colour image led to the false impression of photoreceptor disruption.

Conclusion: Grey-scale images are qualitatively superior to the colour-scale images on high-resolution spectral OCT. Colour images can be misleading, as the displayed colours are false colours, and the observer may see a dramatic change in colour and interpret that as a large change in the OCT reflectivity.

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  • Competing interests: None.

  • Funding: NIH grant EY007366, EY01623.

  • Ethics approval: Ethics approval was provided by University of California, San Diego.

  • Patient consent: Obtained.

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