Imaging Retinal Mosaics in the Living Eye
The retina is a multilayered structured with impressive light detection and image processing capabilities. The ability to image the living retina at a cellular spatial scale has considerable potential for understanding diseases of the eye as well as normal vision, but the eye's aberrations, eye movements, the extremely low reflectance of the retina, and the upper limit on how much light can be delivered to the retina safely all pose formidable limitations. We have recently developed a very sensitive camera equipped with adaptive optics that can acquire fluorescence images of the living retina at a transverse resolution of less than 2 microns. This device has provided the first in vivo images of the smallest capillaries in the retina, the retinal pigment epithelial cells that lie behind the photoreceptors, and the ganglion cells that convey the retinal image to the brain. These capabilities may eventually contribute to the diagnosis and treatment of major retinal diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.