We present a numerical method which provides the ability to analyze digitized microscope images of retinal explants and quantify neurite outgrowth. Few parameters are required as input and limited user interaction is necessary to process an entire experiment of images. This eliminates fatigue related errors and user-related bias common to manual analysis. The method does not rely on stained images and handles images of variable quality. The algorithm is used to determine time and dose dependent, in vitro, neurotoxic effects of 1 GeV per nucleon iron particles in retinal explants. No neurotoxic effects are detected until 72 h after exposure; at 72 h, significant reductions of neurite outgrowth occurred at doses higher than 10 cGy.