Adaptive optics (AO) is a set of technologies for the dynamic manipulating optical wavefronts. Ophthalmic AO is the subset of these technologies used to modify the wavefront aberrations that are unique to each living eye. Beyond the defocus and astigmatism that can be corrected with spectacles, the wavefront aberrations introduce by the optics of the eye introduce blur that limits the transverse and axial resolution of retinal imaging devices, that is, ophthalmoscopes. This blur also prevents the optical stimulation of small retinal areas, such as those covered by individual photoreceptor cells. The spatial resolution improvement that results from the correction of the ocular aberrations enables the non-invasive study of structure and function at the cellular scale, effectively transforming ophthalmoscopes into microscopes. Ophthalmic AO can also be used to deliberately introduce aberrations to study the visual system and to allow subjects to experience the potential outcome of refractive surgery or intraocular lens replacement.

Ophthalmic AO applications have the potential to transform the study, diagnosing and management of diseases that affect the eye. For this potential to materialize, however, the technology must become accessible to non-experts. This handbook aims to facilitate this by providing a pedagogical, rigorous, and comprehensive resource for users and developers of ophthalmic AO. Particular emphasis will be placed in the introduction of essential concepts and jargon, as well as providing tips and describing best practices that allow non-experts to effectively use this technology.

Vyas Akondi, Ramkumar Sabesan and Alfredo Dubra

November 2020


Please cite individual chapters/sections as follows: First Name, Last Name, “chapter/section title,” Byers Eye Institute, Stanford University (current year). TODO: URL

Please cite the entire handbook as: V. Akondi, R. Sabesan and A. Dubra, “Handbook of Ophthalmic AO,” Byers Eye Institute, Stanford University (current year). TODO: URL

Errors and typos

We are certainly not infalible, and like everyone, make frequent mistakes. So, please let us know of anything that needs fixing.

Addition requests

The handbook is meant to be a living resource that serves the ophthalmic AO community. In that spirit, please feel free to request the incorporation of relevant additional material.

The material in this handbook is intended for non-commercial academic purposes. Content may be used with a non-exclusive rights under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Creative Commons license, citing Handbook of Ophthalmic AO TODO: URL as the source.


The format of this resource is inspired by Webvision. On behalf of all of us in the vision community, thank you Bryan (Jones) et al., for this fantastic resource we all benefit from.