Refractive index measurement of the isolated crystalline lens using optical coherence tomography

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Abstract

An optical coherence tomography system has been developed that was designed specifically for imaging the isolated crystalline lens. Cross-sectional OCT images were recorded on 40 lenses from 32 human donors with an age range of 6–82 years. A method has been developed to measure the axial thickness and average refractive index of the lens from a single recorded image. The measured average group refractive index at the measurement wavelength of 825 nm was converted to the average phase refractive index at 589 nm using lens dispersion data from the literature. The average refractive index for all lenses measured was 1.408 ± 0.005 which agrees well with recent MRI measurements of the lens index gradient. A linear regression of the data resulted in a statistically significant decrease in the average refractive index with age, but a simple linear model was insufficient to explain the age dependence. The results presented here suggest that the peak refractive index in the nucleus is closer to 1.420, rather than the previously accepted value of 1.406.

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