The eye is a highly specialized optical system. Its proper function requires tradeoffs between image quality at a single wavelength and the need to operate over a wide range of conditions., Retinal image quality is determined by both the refractive elements of the eye (cornea and lens) and the cone photoreceptors. The cone photoreceptors play a critical role, since they preferentially capture light from a particular location in properties of the pupil, and because they discretely sample the retinal image. The interaction of cones and the refractive properties of the eye is not well understood, and is highly variable across individuals. Understanding of this interaction has high clinical relevance, since over 1,000,000 patients a year are undergoing some form of refractive surgery. Refractive surgery does not yet take into account the large intra-subject variations. If future plans for enhanced refractive strategies are to improve vision then they must be designed with an understanding of the tradeoffs and optimizations involved in image formation. This proposal will make both basic measurements of all aspects of image formation, and ask questions as to whether the aberrations of the eye arise from random errors, or are actually in some sense beneficial, providing increased uniformity of image quality with changes in the spectral content of the retinal image. We will measure the optical quality of the eye over the visible spectrum using modern wavefront sensing techniques. Using modern optical techniques we will obtain measurements of cone directional sensitivity and cone packing density. We will validate new optical techniques using psychophysical measurements. We will combine information on the wave aberrations of the eye with the measurements of directional selectivity and packing density of the cone photoreceptors to obtain individualized estimate of retinal image quality for both monochromatic and polychromatic light. Retinal image quality will be examined as a function of age and refractive error. We will use these data to test whether the incorporation of cone information into the estimates of retinal image quality generates a better description of patient visual performance. Finally, we will test whether the cones can actively respond to changes in the eye by re-orienting. Our long-term goal is to understand the factors involved in the initial stages of image formation in the human eye, including the contributions of the cornea, lens, and cone photoreceptors, as well as their interactions.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-VISB (01))
Program Officer
Mariani, Andrew P
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Schepens Eye Research Institute
United States
Zip Code
Elsner, Ann E; Chui, Toco Y P; Feng, Lei et al. (2017) Distribution differences of macular cones measured by AOSLO: Variation in slope from fovea to periphery more pronounced than differences in total cones. Vision Res 132:62-68
Marcos, Susana; Werner, John S; Burns, Stephen A et al. (2017) Vision science and adaptive optics, the state of the field. Vision Res 132:3-33
King, Brett J; Sapoznik, Kaitlyn A; Elsner, Ann E et al. (2017) SD-OCT and Adaptive Optics Imaging of Outer Retinal Tubulation. Optom Vis Sci 94:411-422
Sawides, Lucie; de Castro, Alberto; Burns, Stephen A (2017) The organization of the cone photoreceptor mosaic measured in the living human retina. Vision Res 132:34-44
de Castro, Alberto; Sawides, Lucie; Qi, Xiaofeng et al. (2017) Adaptive optics retinal imaging with automatic detection of the pupil and its boundary in real time using Shack-Hartmann images. Appl Opt 56:6748-6754
Huang, Gang; Luo, Ting; Gast, Thomas J et al. (2015) Imaging Glaucomatous Damage Across the Temporal Raphe. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 56:3496-504
Huang, Gang; Gast, Thomas J; Burns, Stephen A (2014) In vivo adaptive optics imaging of the temporal raphe and its relationship to the optic disc and fovea in the human retina. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 55:5952-61
Burns, Stephen A; Elsner, Ann E; Chui, Toco Y et al. (2014) In vivo adaptive optics microvascular imaging in diabetic patients without clinically severe diabetic retinopathy. Biomed Opt Express 5:961-74
Chui, Toco Y P; VanNasdale, Dean A; Elsner, Ann E et al. (2014) The association between the foveal avascular zone and retinal thickness. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 55:6870-7
Chui, Toco Y P; Gast, Thomas J; Burns, Stephen A (2013) Imaging of vascular wall fine structure in the human retina using adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscopy. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 54:7115-24

Showing the most recent 10 out of 82 publications