THz Imaging System for in Vivo Human Cornea

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Terahertz (THz) imaging of corneal tissue water content (CTWC) is a proposed method for early, accurate detection and study of corneal diseases. Despite promising results from ex vivo and in vivo cornea studies, interpretation of the reflectivity data is confounded by the contact between corneal tissue and rigid dielectric window used to flatten the imaging field. This work develops a novel imaging system and image reconstruction methods specifically for nearly spherical targets such as human cornea. A prototype system was constructed using a 650-GHz multiplier source and Schottky diode detector. Resolution and imaging field strength measurement from characterization targets correlate well with those predicted by the quasioptical theory and physical optics analysis. Imaging experiments with corneal phantoms and ex vivo corneas demonstrate the hydration sensitivity of the imaging system and reliable measurement of CTWC. We present successful acquisition of noncontact THz images of in vivo human cornea, and discuss strategies for optimizing the imaging system design for clinical use.



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