The new paper, Computational high-resolution optical imaging of the living human retina, demonstrates OCT imaging of human retinal photoreceptor cells without the need for hardware adaptive optics (HAO). Retinal imaging, the primary application of OCT, can be significantly improved through the use of HAO technology, originally developed for astronomy to compensate for atmospheric turbulence (that manifests as the ‘twinkling of stars’). Hardware AO has been used to to correct aberrations of the human eye and resolve photoreceptor cells, however it’s application in the field is limited due to the expensive, elaborate and bulky optical systems that are needed.
This paper is a collaboration with researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and builds on the computational adaptive optics work of Prof. Adie while he was a postdoc in the Boppart lab at UIUC.
A key result of the paper is that computational methods for aberration correction (with appropriate motion correction algorithms) can be applied in highly dynamic living samples – even during fixation the human eye constantly undergoes rapid micrometer-scale motions. Additionally, the post-data-acquisition capability of computational adaptive optics means that, unlike with hardware adaptive optics, the correction does not have to be optimized at the time of imaging. This allowed us to perform separate spatially-localized aberration corrections across the relatively wide field-of-views seen in the image mosaics in the main paper and Supplementary Information.