Abstract

We present imaging results in human retinal tissue in vivo that allowed us to determine the axial resolution of the adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscope (AOSLO). The instrument is briefly described, and the imaging results from human subjects are compared with (a) the estimated axial resolution values for a diffraction-limited, double-pass instrument and (b) the measured one for a calibrated diffuse retinal model. The comparison showed that the measured axial resolution, as obtained from optical sectioning of human retinas in vivo, can be as low as 71 µm for a 50 µm confocal pinhole after focusing a 3.5 mm beam with a 100 mm focal-length lens. The axial resolution values typically fall between the predictions from numerical models for diffuse and specular reflectors. This suggests that the reflection from the retinal blood vessel combines diffuse and specular components. This conclusion is supported by the almost universal interpretation that the image of a cylindrical blood vessel exhibits a bright reflection along its apex that is considered specular. The enhanced axial resolution achieved through use of adaptive optics leads to an improvement in the volume resolution of almost 2 orders of magnitude when compared with a conventional scanning laser ophthalmoscope and almost a factor of 3 better than commercially available optical coherence tomographic instruments.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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