Background: Glaucoma is an optic neuropathy in which changes in the appearance of both the optic nerve head and the surrounding tissues are important in both diagnosing its presence and progression. Accurate methods to objectively document the appearance of the optic nerve are necessary. The confocal laser scanning ophthalmoscope (Zeiss) is a new prototype instrument that may have the capability to accurately perform this function.
Methods: The authors performed a prospective pilot study evaluating the ability of the confocal laser scanning ophthalmoscope to reproduce three-dimensional optic nerve images. Each retinal image contained 600,000 bytes of information. Thirty discrete images of the right optic nerves of 19 visually normal volunteers were obtained. Depth measurements were compared from the same 100 x 100 micron areas (neighborhoods).
Results: Image comparisons found the variability of depth measurements for the entire image were within 102 microns (95% confidence interval). Sixty percent of the depth measurements were reproducible within 100 microns. Variability of the depth measurements was greatest where the neuroretinal rim sloped at the edge of the optic cup and lowest in the peripapillary area.
Conclusion: The confocal laser scanning ophthalmoscope has the potential to be a safe, rapid, and reproducible method of imaging ocular structures.