Adaptive optics retinal imaging: emerging clinical applications

Optom Vis Sci. 2010 Dec;87(12):930-41. doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e3181ff9a8b.


The human retina is a uniquely accessible tissue. Tools like scanning laser ophthalmoscopy and spectral domain-optical coherence tomography provide clinicians with remarkably clear pictures of the living retina. Although the anterior optics of the eye permit such non-invasive visualization of the retina and associated pathology, the same optics induce significant aberrations that obviate cellular-resolution imaging in most cases. Adaptive optics (AO) imaging systems use active optical elements to compensate for aberrations in the optical path between the object and the camera. When applied to the human eye, AO allows direct visualization of individual rod and cone photoreceptor cells, retinal pigment epithelium cells, and white blood cells. AO imaging has changed the way vision scientists and ophthalmologists see the retina, helping to clarify our understanding of retinal structure, function, and the etiology of various retinal pathologies. Here, we review some of the advances that were made possible with AO imaging of the human retina and discuss applications and future prospects for clinical imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / genetics
  • Albinism / diagnosis
  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Color Vision Defects / congenital
  • Color Vision Defects / diagnosis
  • Cysteine
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Mosaicism
  • Mutation
  • Ophthalmoscopes
  • Ophthalmoscopy / adverse effects
  • Ophthalmoscopy / methods
  • Optics and Photonics / instrumentation
  • Optics and Photonics / methods*
  • Photography / instrumentation
  • Retina / pathology*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / pathology
  • Retinal Degeneration / diagnosis
  • Retinal Pigment Epithelium / pathology
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / pathology
  • Retinal Vessels / pathology
  • Thymidine
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence / adverse effects
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence / methods


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • Cysteine
  • Thymidine