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The monitoring of the effects of diabetes, hypertension, and premature birth on the visual system can be assisted by quantitative analysis of the vascular architecture of the retina. The application of image analysis techniques in ophthalmology becomes possible after the desired features have been detected through the use of an appropriate method. We propose image processing techniques for the detection of blood vessels in the retina. The methods include the design of a bank of directionally sensitive Gabor filters for several values of the scale and elongation parameters. Forty images of the retina from the DRIVE database were used to evaluate the performance of the methods. High efficiency in the detection of blood vessels with the area under the receiver operating characteristics curve of up to 0.96 was achieved.