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November 1997

A Comparison of Retinal Morphology Viewed by Optical Coherence Tomography and by Light Microscopy

Author Affiliations

From Duke University Eye Center, Durham, NC (Dr Toth and Mr Narayan); Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge (Messrs Boppart and Hee and Dr Fujimoto); Medizinisches Laserzentrum, Lübeck, Germany (Dr Birngruber); TASC Inc, San Antonio, Tex (Dr Cain); Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md (Dr DiCarlo); and Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Boiling AFB, Washington, DC (Dr Roach).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1997;115(11):1425-1428. doi:10.1001/archopht.1997.01100160595012

Objective:  To compare the cross-sectional images of primate retinal morphology obtained by optical coherence tomography (OCT) with light microscopy to determine the retinal components represented in OCT images.

Methods:  Laser pulses were delivered to the retina to create small marker lesions in a Macaca mulatta. These lesions were used to align in vivo OCT scans and ex vivum histologic cross sections for image comparison.

Results:  The OCT images demonstrated reproducible patterns of retinal morphology that corresponded to the location of retinal layers seen on light microscopic overlays. Layers of relative high reflectivity corresponded to horizontally aligned retinal components such as the nerve fiber layer and plexiform layers, as well as to the retinal pigment epithelium and choroid. In contrast, the nuclear layers and the photoreceptor inner and outer segments demonstrated relative low reflectivity by OCT.

Conclusions:  Retinal morphology and macular OCT imaging correlate well, with alignment of areas of high and low reflectivity to specific retinal and choroidal elements. Resolution of retinal structures by OCT depends on the contrast in relative reflectivity of adjacent structures. Use of this tool will enable expanded study of retinal morphology, both normal and pathologic, as it evolves in vivo.