We investigate the relationship between the laser beam at the retina (spot size) and the extent of retinal injury from single ultrashort laser pulses. From previous studies it is believed that the retinal effect of single 3-ps laser pulses should vary in extent and location, depending on the occurrence of laser-induced breakdown (LIB) at the site of laser delivery. Single 3-ps pulses of 580-nm laser energy are delivered over a range of spot sizes to the retina of Macaca mulatta. The retinal response is captured sequentially with optical coherence tomography (OCT). The in vivo OCT images and the extent of pathology on final microscopic sections of the laser site are compared. With delivery of a laser pulse with peak irradiance greater than that required for LIB, OCT and light micrographs demonstrate inner retinal injury with many intraretinal and/or vitreous hemorrhages. In contrast, broad outer retinal injury with minimal to no choriocapillaris effect is seen after delivery of laser pulses to a larger retinal area (60 to 300 mm diam) when peak irradiance is less than that required for LIB. The broader lesions extend into the inner retina when higher energy delivery produces intraretinal injury. Microscopic examination of stained fixed tissues provide better resolution of retinal morphology than OCT. OCT provides less resolution but could be guided over an in vivo, visible retinal lesion for repeated sampling over time during the evolution of the lesion formation. For 3-ps visible wavelength laser pulses, varying the spot size and laser energy directly affects the extent of retinal injury. This again is believed to be partly due to the onset of LIB, as seen in previous studies. Spot-size dependence should be considered when comparing studies of retinal effects or when pursuing a specific retinal effect from ultrashort laser pulses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1288-1296
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of biomedical optics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Histopathology
  • Laser
  • Laser-tissue interaction
  • Ophthalmology
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Retina
  • Ultrashort laser pulses
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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