Digital enhancement of haematoxylin- and eosin-stained histological images for red-green colour-blind observers.

Gabriel Landini, G Perryer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)


Individuals with red-green colour-blindness (CB) commonly experience great difficulty differentiating between certain histological stain pairs, notably haematoxylin-eosin (H&E). The prevalence of red-green CB is high (6-10% of males), including among medical and laboratory personnel, and raises two major concerns: first, accessibility and equity issues during the education and training of individuals with this disability, and second, the likelihood of errors in critical tasks such as interpreting histological images. Here we show two methods to enhance images of H&E-stained samples so the differently stained tissues can be well discriminated by red-green CBs while remaining usable by people with normal vision. Method 1 involves rotating and stretching the range of H&E hues in the image to span the perceptual range of the CB observers. Method 2 digitally unmixes the original dyes using colour deconvolution into two separate images and repositions the information into hues that are more distinctly perceived. The benefits of these methods were tested in 36 volunteers with normal vision and 11 with red-green CB using a variety of H&E stained tissue sections paired with their enhanced versions. CB subjects reported they could better perceive the different stains using the enhanced images for 85% of preparations (method 1: 90%, method 2: 73%), compared to the H&E-stained original images. Many subjects with normal vision also preferred the enhanced images to the original H&E. The results suggest that these colour manipulations confer considerable advantage for those with red-green colour vision deficiency while not disadvantaging people with normal colour vision.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-301
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Microscopy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2009


  • staining enhancement
  • colour deconvolution
  • Colour blindness
  • heamatoxylin eosin
  • image processing
  • colour perception


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