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J Biomed Opt. 2004 Nov-Dec;9(6):1214-22.

In vivo measurement of time-resolved autofluorescence at the human fundus.

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University of Jena, Department of Experimental Ophthalmology, Bachstr. 18, 07740 Jena, Germany.


An experimental setup for measurement of time-resolved autofluorescence of the human eye fundus is demonstrated. The method combines laser scanning technique and time-correlated single photon counting. The light source is a laser diode, delivering pulses of about 100 ps duration at a repetition rate of 40 MHz. The excitation wavelength is 446 nm and the cutoff wavelength of fluorescence detection is at 475 nm. The autofluorescence can be determined with a spatial resolution of 80 x 80 microm2 and 25 ps time resolution. The fluorescence decay is optimally approximated by a biexponential model. The dominating lifetime tau1 is shortest in the macula (320 to 380 ps) and reaches 1500 ps in the optic disk. The lifetime tau2 varies between 2 ns and 5 ns, but the spatial distribution is more homogeneous. Respiration of 100% oxygen for 6 min leads to changes in the fluorescence lifetime pointing to detection of coenzymes. Diagrams of lifetime tau2 versus tau1 are well suited for comparison of substances. Such lifetime clusters of a 20 deg macular field of a young healthy subject and of a patient suffering from dry age-related macular degeneration overlap only partially with tau2-tau1 clusters of lipofuscin.

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