Transscleral Optical Phase Imaging of the Human Retina

Nat Photonics. 2020 Jul;14(7):439-445. doi: 10.1038/s41566-020-0608-y. Epub 2020 Mar 23.


In-vivo observation of the human retina at the cellular level is crucial to detect the first signs of retinal diseases and properly treat them. Despite the phenomenal advances in adaptive optics (AO) systems, clinical imaging of many retinal cells is still elusive due to the low signal-to-noise ratio induced by transpupillary illumination. We present a transscleral optical phase imaging (TOPI) method, which relies on high-angle oblique illumination of the retina, combined with AO, to enhance cell contrast. Examination of eleven healthy volunteer eyes, without pupil dilation, shows the ability of this method to produce in-vivo images of retinal cells, from the retinal pigment epithelium to the nerve fibre layer. This method also allows the generation of high-resolution label-free ex-vivo phase images of flat-mounted retinas. The 4.4°x 4.4° field-of-view in-vivo images are recorded in less than 10 seconds, opening new avenues in the exploration of healthy and diseased retinas.