A new system for the recording of high-resolution images of the cone mosaic in the living human fovea has been developed. The experimental method is inspired by stellar speckle interferometry, used in astronomy to resolve binary stars. Series of short-exposure images of small areas of the fovea are registered under coherent illumination. These images show speckle patterns that have some correlation with the topography of the cone mosaic and retain high-resolution information. Such correlation is better revealed in the power spectrum (square modulus of the Fourier transform). The signal-to-noise ratio is increased, without loss of high frequencies, by averaging the power spectra of a number of such speckle patterns. The average power spectra show, in most of the cases, an elliptical ring (or hexagon), whose mean radius corresponds to the characteristic spatial frequency of the cone mosaic (or the inverse of the mean row-to-row cone spacing) at a given retinal location. Good results are obtained in the five normal observers tested, at various retinal eccentricities, up to 1 visual degree, including the center of the fovea for two eyes. We find a decrease in the spatial frequency of the mosaic with the eccentricity and an important intersubject variability, in agreement with anatomical studies.
©1996 Optical Society of America