Imaging the living retina at the cellular level with AO parallel spectral-domain optical coherence tomography

Donald T. Miller, Yan Zhang, Jungtae Rha, Ravi Jonnal, Weihua Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We investigate a novel camera that incorporates adaptive optics (AO) and optical coherence tomography (OCT) to determine if it can achieve the necessary 3-D resolution, sensitivity, and speed for imaging individual cells in the living human retina. An AO spectral-domain OCT system was constructed that is based on a free-space Michelson interferometer design. The OCT sub-system consists of a broadband superluminescent diode whose beam passes through an astigmatic lens to form a line illumination pattern on the retina, which is then imaged onto the slit of an imaging spectrometer. The detector of the spectrometer is a scientific-grade areal CCD. Conventional flood illumination, also with AO, was integrated into the camera and provided confirmation of the focus position in the retina. Short bursts of narrow B-scans (100×560 microns) of the living retina were subsequently acquired at 500 Hz during dynamic compensation that corrected the most significant ocular aberrations across a dilated 6 mm pupil. Camera sensitivity (up to 94 dB) was sufficient for observing reflections from essentially all neural layers of the retina. The 3-D resolution of the B-scans (3.0×3.0×5.7 microns) is the highest reported to date in the living human eye. It was sufficient to observe the interface between the inner and outer segments of individual photoreceptor cells, resolved in both lateral and axial dimensions. The waveguiding nature of the photoreceptors is suggestive at multiple reflective sites. Micro-movements of the retina during short burst imaging allow averaging to reduce speckle contrast, but they appear insufficient for significant speckle reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number601803
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005
Externally publishedYes
Event5th International Workshop on Adaptive Optics for Industry and Medicine - Beijing, China
Duration: Aug 29 2005Sep 1 2005


  • Adaptive optics
  • Microscopy
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Photoreceptors
  • Retinal imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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