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Historic first images of rod photoreceptors in the living human eye
Date:6/8/2011

e optics scanning laser ophthalmoscope. By moving the laser point across the retina and correcting the distortion along the way, line-by-line an accurate image emerges, in much the same way that a CRT monitor renders an image.

Though earlier AO systems could effectively image cones and have become a mainstay of high-resolution retinal imaging research, the smaller rods, which outnumber cones 20 to 1 in the retina, have eluded clear and contiguous observation in the living eye.

Breakthrough Design

The breakthrough in the design of the AO instrument that led to clearly visualizing rods was, according to Dubra, "embarrassingly simple, and relied on well-known equations and concepts." By simply folding the spherical mirrors that act as lenses in the instrument into a three-dimensional structure, the image quality of the retina was improved sufficiently to clearly resolve the contiguous rod mosaic, as well as the entire cone mosaic at the foveal center.

"By combining careful optical engineering, excellent adaptive optics control, and knowledge of the visual system the authors have made a major advancement in both biomedical imaging and vision science," says Burns.

Improving Patient Care

According to the researchers, their next step is to develop a clinical model that could be widely available. A related task is simplifying and teaching the art of interpreting AO images to guide clinical decisions about diagnosis and treatment.

When that occurs, hopefully in the next 5 to 10 years, doctors will likely be able to routinely peer into a living human eye with such precision and clarity that they will be able to see and evaluate individual rodsand do three things never before possible: accurately describe the physical presentation of specific rod disordersthe "phenotype" of a disease, intervene with early treatment at the first sign of disease, and even determine how individual cells are responding t
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Contact: Angela Stark
astark@osa.org
202-416-1443
Optical Society of America
Source:Eurekalert  

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