It has long been recognised that the optical quality of the human eye is far from diffraction limited. This affects our visual acuity and severely limits the resolution at which images of the living retina can be obtained. Adaptive optics is a technique that can correct for the eye's aberrations and provide diffraction limited resolution. The origins of the technique lie in astronomy, but it was successfully adapted to the human eye just over 10 years ago. Since then there have been rapid developments in the field of adaptive optics and vision science. In vivo images of the retina can now be routinely achieved with unprecedented resolution. Sophisticated experiments can be performed to gain a deeper knowledge of the interaction of neural retinal architecture and visual perception. This article presents the theory behind adaptive optics for the human eye and reviews the developments in this field to date.
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