Photoreceptor layer thickness changes during dark adaptation observed with ultrahigh-resolution optical coherence tomography

Chen D. Lu, Byungkun Lee, Julia Schottenhamml, Andreas Maier, Edward N Pugh Jr, James G. Fujimoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To examine outer retinal band changes after flash stimulus and subsequent dark adaptation with ultrahigh-resolution optical coherence tomography (UHR-OCT). METHODS. Five dark-adapted left eyes of five normal subjects were imaged with 3-μm axialresolution UHR-OCT during 30 minutes of dark adaptation following 96%, 54%, 23%, and 0% full-field and 54% half-field rhodopsin bleach. We identified the ellipsoid zone inner segment/outer segment (EZ[IS/OS]), cone interdigitation zone (CIZ), rod interdigitation zone (RIZ), retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), and Bruch’s membrane (BM) axial positions and generated two-dimensional thickness maps of the EZ(IS/OS) to the four bands. The average thickness over an area of the thickness map was compared against that of the dark-adapted baselines. The time-dependent thickness changes (photoresponses) were statistically compared against 0% bleach. Dark adaptometry was performed with the same bleaching protocol. RESULTS. The EZ(IS/OS)-CIZ photoresponse was significantly different at 96% (P < 0.0001) and 54% (P = 0.006) bleach. At all three bleaching levels, the EZ(IS/OS)-RIZ, -RPE, and -BM responses were significantly different (P < 0.0001). The EZ(IS/OS)-CIZ and EZ(IS/OS)-RIZ time courses were similar to the recovery of rod- and cone-mediated sensitivity, respectively, measured with dark adaptometry. The maximal EZ(IS/OS)-CIZ and EZ(IS/OS)-RIZ response magnitudes doubled from 54% to 96% bleach. Both EZ(IS/OS)-RPE and EZ(IS/OS)-BM responses resembled dampened oscillations that were graded in amplitude and duration with bleaching intensity. Half-field photoresponses were localized to the stimulated retina. CONCLUSIONS. With noninvasive, near-infrared UHR-OCT, we characterized three distinct, spatially localized photoresponses in the outer retinal bands. These photoresponses have potential value as physical correlates of photoreceptor function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4632-4643
Number of pages12
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • Dark adaptation
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Outer segments
  • Photoreceptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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