Polarization properties of retinal blood vessel walls measured with polarization sensitive optical coherence tomography

Hadi Afsharan, Michael J. Hackmann, Qiang Wang, Farzaneh Navaeipour, Stephy Vijaya Kumar Jayasree, Robert J. Zawadzki, Dilusha Silva, Chulmin Joo, Barry Cense

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


A new method based on polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography (PS-OCT) is introduced to determine the polarization properties of human retinal vessel walls, in vivo. Measurements were obtained near the optic nerve head of three healthy human subjects. The double pass phase retardation per unit depth (DPPR/UD), which is proportional to the birefringence, is higher in artery walls, presumably because of the presence of muscle tissue. Measurements in surrounding retinal nerve fiber layer tissue yielded lower DPPR/UD values, suggesting that the retinal vessel wall tissue near the optic nerve is not covered by retinal nerve fiber layer tissue (0.43°/µm vs. 0.77°/µm, respectively). Measurements were obtained from multiple artery-vein pairs, to quantify the different polarization properties. Measurements were taken along a section of the vessel wall, with changes in DPPR/UD up to 15%, while the vessel wall thickness remained relatively constant. A stationary scan pattern was applied to determine the influence of involuntary eye motion on the measurement, which was significant. Measurements were also analyzed by two examiners, with high inter-observer agreement. The measurement repeatability was determined with measurements that were acquired during multiple visits. An improvement in accuracy can be achieved with an ultra-broad-bandwidth PS-OCT system since it will provide more data points in-depth, which reduces the influence of discretization and helps to facilitate better fitting of the birefringence data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4340-4362
Number of pages23
JournalBiomedical Optics Express
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


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