The polarization characteristics of birefringent tissues could be only partially obtained using linearly polarized light in polarization sensitive optical imaging. Here we analyze the change in polarization of backscattered light from birefringent structures versus the orientations of the incident polarizations using linearly, circularly and radially polarized light in a cross-polarized confocal microscope. A spatially variable retardation plate composed of eight sectors of λ/2 wave plates was used to transform linearly polarized light into a radially polarized light. Based on the experimental data obtained from ex-vivo measurements on human scalp hairs and in-vivo measurements on hair and skin, we exemplify that the underestimation of the birefringence content resulting from the orientation related effects associated with the use of linearly polarized light for imaging tissues containing wavy birefringent structures could be minimized by using radially polarized light.
- Confocal microscopy
- Polarization dependent contrast
- Radial polarization