Improved contrast of subretinal structures using polarization analysis

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2003 Sep;44(9):4061-8. doi: 10.1167/iovs.03-0124.


Purpose: To improve the ability to detect and quantify the early retinal changes associated with aging, age-related maculopathy, and age-related macular degeneration.

Methods: A computational approach was implemented for analyzing images using a readily available polarimeter that is used for glaucoma diagnosis. This device, the GDx Nerve Fiber Analyzer (Laser Diagnostic Technologies, Inc., San Diego, CA), takes a series of images as a function of the polarization angle of the illuminating light. For each of 20 input polarizations, pairs of retinal images are digitized. One image is made of the light returning from the eye that is polarized parallel to the input light, and the other image is made of the light that is rotated by 90 degrees from the input polarization. Using the raw data from these 40 images, and a simplified model of the polarization properties of the eye, we calculated the amount of light that returns in a parallel polarized state, and the amount of light that is depolarized by multiple scattering. Measurements were made in seven subjects with small drusen.

Results: The depolarized light image produced a 3.4 times higher contrast of drusen and subretinal changes than the parallel polarized light images.

Conclusions: Polarization-sensitive imaging combined with a simple computational approach allows the measurement of the retinal distribution of multiply scattered light. With this technique, retinal imaging of age-related changes in retinal and subretinal tissue can be improved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Sensitivity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Macular Degeneration / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Fibers / pathology
  • Ocular Hypertension / diagnosis*
  • Optic Disk / pathology*
  • Optic Nerve Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Retina / pathology*
  • Scattering, Radiation