We present the first ultrahigh-resolution optical coherence tomography (OCT) structural intensity images and movies of the human retina in vivo at 29.3 frames per second with 500 A-lines per frame. Data was acquired at a continuous rate of 29,300 spectra per second with a 98% duty cycle. Two consecutive spectra were coherently summed to improve sensitivity, resulting in an effective rate of 14,600 A-lines per second at an effective integration time of 68 µs. The turn-key source was a combination of two super luminescent diodes with a combined spectral width of more than 150 nm providing 4.5 mW of power. The spectrometer of the spectral-domain OCT (SD-OCT) setup was centered around 885 nm with a bandwidth of 145 nm. The effective bandwidth in the eye was limited to approximately 100 nm due to increased absorption of wavelengths above 920 nm in the vitreous. Comparing the performance of our ultrahighresolution SD-OCT system with a conventional high-resolution time domain OCT system, the A-line rate of the spectral-domain OCT system was 59 times higher at a 5.4 dB lower sensitivity. With use of a software based dispersion compensation scheme, coherence length broadening due to dispersion mismatch between sample and reference arms was minimized. The coherence length measured from a mirror in air was equal to 4.0 µm (n=1). The coherence length determined from the specular reflection of the foveal umbo in vivo in a healthy human eye was equal to 3.5 µm (n=1.38). With this new system, two layers at the location of the retinal pigmented epithelium seem to be present, as well as small features in the inner and outer plexiform layers, which are believed to be small blood vessels.
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