A single-camera, high-speed, polarization-sensitive, spectral-domain optical-coherence-tomography system was developed to measure the polarization properties of the in vivo human retina. A novel phase-unwrapping method in birefringent media is described to extract the total reflectivity, accumulative retardance, and fast-axis orientation from a specially designed sequence of polarization states incident on the sample. A quarter-wave plate was employed to test the performance of the system. The average error and standard deviation of retardation measurements were 3.2° and 2.3°, respectively, and of the fast-axis orientation 1.2° and 0.7° over the range of 0°–180°. The depolarization properties of the retinal pigment epithelium were clearly observed in both retardance and fast-axis orientation image. A normalized standard deviation of the retardance and of the fast-axis orientation is introduced to segment the polarization-scrambling layer of the retinal pigment epithelium.
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