Many chronic eye diseases can be conveniently investigated by observing structural changes in retinal blood vessel diameters. However, detecting changes in an accurate manner in face of interfering pathologies is a challenging task. The task is generally performed through an automatic computerized process. The literature shows that powerful methods have already been proposed to identify vessels in retinal images. Though a significant progress has been achieved toward methods to separate blood vessels from the uneven background, the methods still lack the necessary sensitivity to segment fine vessels. Recently, a multi-scale line-detector method proved its worth in segmenting thin vessels. This paper presents modifications to boost the sensitivity of this multi-scale line detector. First, a varying window size with line-detector mask is suggested to detect small vessels. Second, external orientations are fed to steer the multi-scale line detectors into alignment with flow directions. Third, optimal weights are suggested for weighted linear combinations of individual line-detector responses. Fourth, instead of using one global threshold, a hysteresis threshold is proposed to find a connected vessel tree. The overall impact of these modifications is a large improvement in noise removal capability of the conventional multi-scale line-detector method while finding more of the thin vessels. The contrast-sensitive steps are validated using a publicly available database and show considerable promise for the suggested strategy.