Purpose. To investigate fundamental mechanisms of regimes of laser induced damage to the retina and the morphological changes associated with the damage response. Methods. Varying grades of photothermal, photochemical, and photomechanical retinal laser damage were produced in eyes of eight cynomolgus monkeys. An adaptive optics confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscope and spectral domain optical coherence tomographer were combined to simultaneously collect complementary in vivo images of retinal laser damage during and following exposure. Baseline color fundus photography was performed to complement high-resolution imaging. Monkeys were perfused with 10% buffered formalin and eyes were enucleated for histological analysis. Results. Laser energies for visible retinal damage in this study were consistent with previously reported damage thresholds. Lesions were identified in OCT images that were not visible in direct ophthalmoscopic examination or fundus photos. Unique diagnostic characteristics, specific to each damage regime, were identified and associated with shape and localization of lesions to specific retinal layers. Previously undocumented retinal healing response to blue continuous wave laser exposure was recorded through a novel experimental methodology. Conclusion. This study revealed increased sensitivity of lesion detection and improved specificity to the laser of origin utilizing high-resolution imaging when compared to traditional ophthalmic imaging techniques in the retina.
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