Ultra-compact micro-optical elements for endoscopic instruments and miniaturized microscopes allow for non-invasive and non-destructive examination of microstructures and tissues. With sub-cellular level resolution such instruments could provide immediate diagnosis that is virtually consistent with a histologic diagnosis enabling for example to differentiate the boundaries between malignant and benign tissue. Such instruments are now being developed at a rapid rate; however, current manufacturing technologies limit the instruments to very large sizes, well beyond the sub-mm sizes required in order to ensure minimal tissue damage. We show here a platform based on planar microfabrication and soft lithography that overcomes the limitation of current optical elements enabling single cell resolution. We show the ability to resolve lithographic features that are as small as 2 μm using probes with a cross section that is only 100 microns in size. We also show the ability to image individual activated neural cells in brain slices via our fabricated probe.