Samples were imaged using a laser-scanning microscope, consisting of a broadband sub-15 femtosecond (fs) near-infrared laser. Signal detection was performed using a 16-channel photomultiplier tube (PMT) detector (PML-16PMT). Therefore, spectral analysis of the fluorescence lifetime data was possible. To ensure a correct spectral analysis of the autofluorescence lifetime data, the spectra of the individual endogenous fluorophores were acquired with the 16-channel PMT and with a spectrometer. All experiments were performed within 12h of the porcine eye enucleation.
We were able to image the cornea, crystalline lens, and retina at multiple depths. Discrimination of each structure based on their autofluorescence intensity and lifetimes was possible. Furthermore, discrimination between different layers of the same structure was also possible. To the best of our knowledge, this was the first time that 2PE-FLIM was used for porcine lens imaging and layer discrimination. With this study we further demonstrated the feasibility of 2PE-FLIM to image and differentiate three of the main components of the eye and its potential as an ophthalmologic technique.