Iris recognition systems are among the most accurate of all biometric technologies with immense potential for use in worldwide security applications. This study examined the effect of eye pathology on iris recognition and in particular whether eye disease could cause iris recognition systems to fail. The experiment involved a prospective cohort of 54 patients with anterior segment eye disease who were seen at the acute referral unit of the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh. Iris camera images were obtained from patients before treatment was commenced and again at follow-up appointments after treatment had been given. The principal outcome measure was that of mathematical difference in the iris recognition templates obtained from patients' eyes before and after treatment of the eye disease. Results showed that the performance of iris recognition was remarkably resilient to most ophthalmic disease states, including corneal oedema, iridotomies (laser puncture of iris) and conjunctivitis. Problems were, however, encountered in some patients with acute inflammation of the iris (iritis/anterior uveitis). The effects of a subject developing anterior uveitis may cause current recognition systems to fail. Those developing and deploying iris recognition should be aware of the potential problems that this could cause to this key biometric technology.
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