Images of cone photoreceptors in the living human eye

Vision Res. 1996 Apr;36(8):1067-79. doi: 10.1016/0042-6989(95)00225-1.


Though the photoreceptor mosaic has been imaged through the intact optics of the eyes of several species, it has not been clear whether individual photoreceptors can be resolved in the living human eye. We have constructed a high-resolution fundus camera and have resolved cones with a spacing as small as 3.5 microns in single images of the fundus. The high contrast of these images implies that almost all the light returning from the retina at this wavelength (555 nm) has passed through the apertures of foveal cones. The average power spectra of our retinal images show that it is possible to recover spatial frequencies as high as 150 c/deg in eyes with normal optical quality, a conclusion that was confirmed with estimates of the optical quality of these eyes obtained with a Hartmann-Shack wavefront sensor. These results emphasize the superiority of the eye's optics over the spatial sampling limits of the retina when the eye's optical quality is optimized. They also show that it would be possible to routinely resolve retinal structures as small as photoreceptors in the normal living eye if its aberrations could be corrected.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry / methods
  • Humans
  • Optics and Photonics
  • Photography / instrumentation
  • Pupil
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / anatomy & histology*