Background/purpose: To assess the potential of a new diagnostic technique called optical coherence tomography for imaging macular disease. Optical coherence tomography is a novel noninvasive, noncontact imaging modality which produces high depth resolution (10 microns) cross-sectional tomographs of ocular tissue. It is analogous to ultrasound, except that optical rather than acoustic reflectivity is measured.
Methods: Optical coherence tomography images of the macula were obtained in 51 eyes of 44 patients with selected macular diseases. Imaging is performed in a manner compatible with slit-lamp indirect biomicroscopy so that high-resolution optical tomography may be accomplished simultaneously with normal ophthalmic examination. The time-of-flight delay of light backscattered from different layers in the retina is determined using low-coherence interferometry. Cross-sectional tomographs of the retina profiling optical reflectivity versus distance into the tissue are obtained in 2.5 seconds and with a longitudinal resolution of 10 microns.
Results: Correlation of fundus examination and fluorescein angiography with optical coherence tomography tomographs was demonstrated in 12 eyes with the following pathologies: full- and partial-thickness macular hole, epiretinal membrane, macular edema, intraretinal exudate, idiopathic central serous chorioretinopathy, and detachments of the pigment epithelium and neurosensory retina.
Conclusion: Optical coherence tomography is potentially a powerful tool for detecting and monitoring a variety of macular diseases, including macular edema, macular holes, and detachments of the neurosensory retina and pigment epithelium.