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J Opt Soc Am A Opt Image Sci Vis. 1997 Apr;14(4):731-40.

Determination of the foveal cone spacing by ocular speckle interferometry: limiting factors and acuity predictions.

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Instituto de Optica Daza de Valdés, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, Spain.


We have developed a high-resolution imaging technique, based on speckle interferometry, for the objective determination of the cone spacing in the living human fovea. The spatial resolution attained with this technique is theoretically diffraction limited by the pupil size. However, the highest frequency that we measure varies greatly among subjects, especially for fully dilated pupils. We have conducted several experiments (determination of the cutoff frequency of ocular speckle interferometry, the double-pass modulation transfer function, and the Stiles-Crawford effect) that indicate that, as expected, the resolution is not limited by the incoherent modulation transfer function. We found, though, a high correlation between the cutoff frequency and the width of the eye's Stiles-Crawford function. This implies that the resolution depends on the structural properties of the cone mosaic itself. In addition, we have compared the Nyquist frequency of the cone mosaic, determined objectively by our technique, with the grating visual acuity measured in the same eyes at the same foveal eccentricities. For our subjects, visual resolution nearly matches the Nyquist frequency within the fovea, except at the foveal center, where the optical transfer function of the eye attenuates the contrast of frequencies close to the Nyquist limit to a value below threshold.

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