Instant polarized light microscopy pi (IPOLπ) for quantitative imaging of collagen architecture and dynamics in ocular tissues



Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Optics and Lasers in Engineering






Biomechanics, Collagen, Optic nerve head, Polarized light microscopy


Collagen architecture determines the biomechanical environment in the eye, and thus characterizing collagen fiber organization and biomechanics is essential to fully understand eye physiology and pathology. We recently introduced instant polarized light microscopy (IPOL) that encodes optically information about fiber orientation and retardance through a color snapshot. Although IPOL allows imaging collagen at the full acquisition speed of the camera, with excellent spatial and angular resolutions, a limitation is that the orientation-encoding color is cyclic every 90° (π/2 radians). In consequence, two orthogonal fibers have the same color and therefore the same orientation when quantified by color-angle mapping. In this study, we demonstrate IPOLπ, a new variation of IPOL, in which the orientation-encoding color is cyclic every 180° (π radians). Herein we present the fundamentals of IPOLπ, including a framework based on a Mueller-matrix formalism to characterize how fiber orientation and retardance determine the color. The improved quantitative capability of IPOLπ enables further study of essential biomechanical properties of collagen in ocular tissues, such as fiber anisotropy and crimp. We present a series of experimental calibrations and quantitative procedures to visualize and quantify ocular collagen orientation and microstructure in the optic nerve head, a region in the back of the eye. There are four important strengths of IPOLπ compared to IPOL. First, IPOLπ can distinguish the orientations of orthogonal collagen fibers via colors, whereas IPOL cannot. Second, IPOLπ requires a lower exposure time than IPOL, thus allowing faster imaging speed. Third, IPOLπ allows visualizing non-birefringent tissues and backgrounds from tissue absorption, whereas both appear dark in IPOL images. Fourth, IPOLπ is cheaper and less sensitive to imperfectly collimated light than IPOL. Altogether, the high spatial, angular, and temporal resolutions of IPOLπ enable a deeper insight into ocular biomechanics and eye physiology and pathology.

Open Access

Green Accepted