Abstract

We have developed a custom scanning laser ophthalmoscope that uses phase plates produced by photolithography to improve the contrast of human retinal images. We combined the scanning engine from a commercial real-time confocal microscope with custom optics to provide medium magnification imaging of the human retina (3° field of view). Defocus and astigmatism were corrected with conventional trial lenses. Higher-order aberrations of the eye were corrected with a phase plate. A 633-nm laser was used for illuminating the retina. Inserting the phase plate into the optical system increased the contrast of a sample retinal vessel by 26%. Additionally, a number of small features of the retina, which were not visible with standard commercial imaging systems, became visible. There results illustrate that, with the rapid development of custom fabrication techniques for refractive corrections, improved diagnostic imaging with little added complexity to existing ophthalmic imaging systems may be realistic.

© 2002 Optical Society of America

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