Development of Extended-Depth Swept Source Optical Coherence Tomography for Applications in Ophthalmic Imaging of the Anterior and Posterior Eye
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive optical imaging modality that provides micron-scale resolution of tissue micro-structure over depth ranges of several millimeters. This imaging technique has had a profound effect on the field of ophthalmology, wherein it has become the standard of care for the diagnosis of many retinal pathologies. Applications of OCT in the anterior eye, as well as for imaging of coronary arteries and the gastro-intestinal tract, have also shown promise, but have not yet achieved widespread clinical use.
The usable imaging depth of OCT systems is most often limited by one of three factors: optical attenuation, inherent imaging range, or depth-of-focus. The first of these, optical attenuation, stems from the limitation that OCT only detects singly-scattered light. Thus, beyond a certain penetration depth into turbid media, essentially all of the incident light will have been multiply scattered, and can no longer be used for OCT imaging. For many applications (especially retinal imaging), optical attenuation is the most restrictive of the three imaging depth limitations. However, for some applications, especially anterior segment, cardiovascular (catheter-based) and GI (endoscopic) imaging, the usable imaging depth is often not limited by optical attenuation, but rather by the inherent imaging depth of the OCT systems. This inherent imaging depth, which is specific to only Fourier Domain OCT, arises due to two factors: sensitivity fall-off and the complex conjugate ambiguity. Finally, due to the trade-off between lateral resolution and axial depth-of-focus inherent in diffractive optical systems, additional depth limitations sometimes arises in either high lateral resolution or extended depth OCT imaging systems. The depth-of-focus limitation is most apparent in applications such as adaptive optics (AO-) OCT imaging of the retina, and extended depth imaging of the ocular anterior segment.
In this dissertation, techniques for extending the imaging range of OCT systems are developed. These techniques include the use of a high spectral purity swept source laser in a full-field OCT system, as well as the use of a peculiar phenomenon known as coherence revival to resolve the complex conjugate ambiguity in swept source OCT. In addition, a technique for extending the depth of focus of OCT systems by using a polarization-encoded, dual-focus sample arm is demonstrated. Along the way, other related advances are also presented, including the development of techniques to reduce crosstalk and speckle artifacts in full-field OCT, and the use of fast optical switches to increase the imaging speed of certain low-duty cycle swept source OCT systems. Finally, the clinical utility of these techniques is demonstrated by combining them to demonstrate high-speed, high resolution, extended-depth imaging of both the anterior and posterior eye simultaneously and in vivo.
Low Coherence Interferometry
Optical Coherence Tomography
Swept Source Optical Coherence Tomography
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