An infrared scanning laser ophthalmoscope (SLO) has been custom built in order to investigate the application of confocal and indirect mode SLO imaging to patients with fundus disease. Infrared light is reflected from the fundus to a greater extent than visible light permitting lower illumination power and, as it penetrates the retinal pigment epithelium, choroidal structures can be readily imaged. Furthermore, as conventional infrared illumination and detection systems are not well suited to ophthalmoscopy, this area is underdeveloped as a potential source of useful clinical data. Confocal, direct and indirect imaging modes have been used to image fundi of normal volunteers and patients with fundus disease. In comparison with conventional fundus photography confocal infrared SLO imaging improves visualisation of choroidal vasculature, retinal pigment epithelial abnormalities, laser photocoagulation scars, and optic disc pores in the lamina cribrosa. Direct infrared SLO imaging enables fundus visualisation through nuclear lens opacities. Furthermore, indirect mode imaging enhances significantly the appearance of macular drusen. The potential clinical benefit of these observations is discussed.
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