Abstract

In several optical technologies for glaucoma diagnosis, polarized light is used to assess the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) of the eye. For better understanding of the polarization properties of the RNFL, it was modeled as a thick birefringent slab containing parallel light-scattering cylinders, and the Mueller matrix for reflectance was derived. The model predicts that (1) the RNFL reflectance has weak intrinsic diattenuation; (2) the diattenuation spectrum depends strongly on the relative refractive indices of the cylinders; (3) both scattering and birefringence contribute to retardation; and (4) the RNFL reflectance generally preserves polarization, but depolarization may be detectable for thick RNFL at short wavelengths.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

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