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Biomed Opt Express. 2020 Jan 24;11(2):1122-1138. doi: 10.1364/BOE.382755. eCollection 2020 Feb 1.

Vectorial birefringence imaging by optical coherence microscopy for assessing fibrillar microstructures in the cornea and limbus.

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Optical+Biomedical Engineering Laboratory, Department of Electrical, Electronic & Computer Engineering, The University of Western Australia, Perth, WA 6009, Australia.
Institute of Physical Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kasprzaka 44/52, 01-224 Warsaw, Poland.
School of Human Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Perth, WA 6009, Australia.
Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA.
Surrey Biophotonics, School of Physics and School of Biosciences and Medicine, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH, United Kingdom.


The organization of fibrillar tissue on the micrometer scale carries direct implications for health and disease but remains difficult to assess in vivo. Polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography measures birefringence, which relates to the microscopic arrangement of fibrillar tissue components. Here, we demonstrate a critical improvement in leveraging this contrast mechanism by employing the improved spatial resolution of focus-extended optical coherence microscopy (1.4 µm axially in air and 1.6 µm laterally, over more than 70 µm depth of field). Vectorial birefringence imaging of sheep cornea ex vivo reveals its lamellar organization into thin sections with distinct local optic axis orientations, paving the way to resolving similar features in vivo.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest related to this article.

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