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The NEI 40th Anniversary Symposia Series

Polarization Sensitive OCT in the Human Retina

Christoph K. Hitzenberger

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) has been developed since the early 1990s as a new imaging modality providing cross sectional images of transparent and translucent tissues with a resolution of a few microns. The main application field of OCT is imaging of the human eye, especially of the retina. Presently available commercial OCT instruments provide cross sectional and 3D images of the distribution of backscattered light intensity. However, intensity based images cannot directly differentiate between different tissues. Polarization sensitive (PS) OCT takes advantage of the additional information carried by the polarization state of backscattered light. Birefringent and depolarizing tissue change the polarization state in a very specific way that can be used to directly differentiate, identify, and segment different tissues like retinal nerve fiber layer or the retinal pigment epithelium. This presentation gives an overview of the principles of PS-OCT and demonstrates applications in healthy eyes and in eyes with several diseases like age related macular degeneration, glaucoma, choroidal tumors, and others.

Christoph Hitzenberger, Ph.D.

Christoph Hitzenberger, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Medical Physics
Vice Chair, Center for Biomedical Engineering and Physics, Medical University of Vienna

Christoph K. Hitzenberger was born in Vienna in 1957. He studied physics and mathematics at the University of Vienna where he obtained his PhD in 1983. In 1987 he joined the Institute of Medical Physics of the Medical School of the University of Vienna (now part of the Center for Biomedical Engineering and Physics of the Medical University of Vienna). Since 1997, he is Associate Professor of Medical Physics. His main fields of research are biomedical applications of partial coherence interferometry and optical coherence tomography.

Department of Health and Human Services NIH, the National Institutes of Health