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Christina Schwarz, Robin Sharma, Soon Keen Cheong, Matthew Keller, David R. Williams, Jennifer J. Hunter; Selective S Cone Damage and Retinal Remodeling Following Intense Ultrashort Pulse Laser Exposures in the Near-Infrared. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(15):5973-5984. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.18-25383.
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Infrared ultrashort pulse lasers are becoming increasingly popular for applications in the living eye. However, safety standards are not yet well established. Here we investigate retinal damage close to threshold for this pulse regime in the living macaque eye.
Retinal radiant exposures between 214 and 856 J/cm2 were delivered to the photoreceptor layer with an ultrashort pulse laser (730 nm, 55 fs, 80 MHz) through a two-photon adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscope. Retinal exposures were followed up immediately after and over several weeks with high-resolution reflectance and two-photon excited fluorescence ophthalmoscopy, providing structural and functional information.
Retinal radiant exposures of 856 J/cm2 resulted in permanent S cone damage. Immediately after the exposure, the affected cones emitted about 2.6 times less two-photon excited fluorescence (TPEF) and showed an altered TPEF time course. Several weeks after the initial exposure, S cone outer and inner segments had disappeared. The space was filled by rods in the peripheral retina and cones near the fovea.
Interestingly, S cones are the receptor class with the lowest sensitivity in the near-infrared but are known to be particularly susceptible to ultraviolet and blue light. This effect of selective S cone damage after intense infrared ultrashort pulse laser exposure may be due to nonlinear absorption and distinct from pure thermal and mechanical mechanisms often associated with ultrashort pulse lasers.
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