This report describes a novel, non-invasive and label-free optical imaging technique, speckle variance optical coherence tomography (svOCT), for visualising blood flow within human retinal capillary networks. This imaging system uses a custom-built swept source OCT system operating at a line rate of 100 kHz. Real-time processing and visualisation is implemented on a consumer grade graphics processing unit. To investigate the quality of microvascular detail acquired with this device we compared images of human capillary networks acquired with svOCT and fluorescein angiography. We found that the density of capillary microvasculature acquired with this svOCT device was visibly greater than fluorescein angiography. We also found that this svOCT device had the capacity to generate en face images of distinct capillary networks that are morphologically comparable with previously published histological studies. Finally, we found that this svOCT device has the ability to non-invasively illustrate the common manifestations of diabetic retinopathy and retinal vascular occlusion. The results of this study suggest that graphics processing unit accelerated svOCT has the potential to non-invasively provide useful quantitative information about human retinal capillary networks. Therefore svOCT may have clinical and research applications for the management of retinal microvascular diseases, which are a major cause of visual morbidity worldwide.
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