High-resolution imaging of photoreceptors in healthy human eyes using an adaptive optics retinal camera



To determine the effects of age on perifoveal cone density in healthy subjects using adaptive optics.


Healthy subjects of various ages were imaged using an adaptive optics retinal camera (RTX-1® Imagine Eyes, Orsay, France). All patients underwent a comprehensive ophthalmologic examination and retinal imaging using spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (Spectralis®, Heidelberg Engineering, Heidelberg, Germany). Cone density together with cone spacing and cone mosaic packing were measured in the nasal and temporal area 450 µm from the fovea. A multivariate analysis was performed to determine which of the following parameters were related to a decrease in cone density: age, axial length, central macular thickness, and retrofoveal choroidal thickness.


One hundred and sixty-seven eyes of 101 subjects aged 6–78 years were studied. Perifoveal cone density significantly decreased with age (R2 = 0.17, p<0.01). Inversely, cone spacing increased with age (R2=0.18, p<0.01). There was no change in the cone packing mosaic (p>0.05). The mean coefficient of variation between fellow eyes was 3.9%. Age and axial length were related to a cone density decrease, while choroidal and retinal thicknesses did not affect cone metrics in healthy subjects.


A moderate perifoveal cone loss occurs with age. The precise consequences of these findings on visual function should be investigated. In addition to a better understanding of normal retinal anatomy, these results could act as a comparative database for further studies on normal and diseased retinas.

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Correspondence to P. Tumahai.

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