The Clinical Application of Polarization Pattern Perception

Gary P. Misson, Stephen J. Anderson, Richard A. Armstrong, Mark Gillett, David Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Determine the repeatability of and optimum stimulus parameters for testing polarization pattern perception in a real-world clinical population, and assess the ability of polarization perception to distinguish normal from abnormal eyes. Methods: Polarization perception was evaluated in staff and patients attending ophthalmology clinics at Warwick Hospital, UK. A series of visual stimuli were presented in pseudorandom order using a liquid-crystal-display–based polarization pattern generator. Stimuli included geometric patterns, gratings, checkerboards, and optotypes. Participants had one or both eyes diagnosed as normal or abnormal following ophthalmic examination, optical coherence tomography, and measures of visual acuity. Measurement scores were assigned to the eye(s) of each participant depending on the total number of stimuli perceived or identified. Results: Stimuli covered the range of spatial scales resolvable within polarization perception by normal and abnormal eyes. Different stimuli had different saliencies. For each stimulus type, polarization perception in the abnormal group was significantly reduced compared with normal eyes (P < 0.001). Relative stimulus salience was broadly similar for normal-eye and abnormal-eye viewing groups, being greatest for radially symmetric patterns and least for optotypes. Checkerboard pattern salience had an inverse logarithmic relationship with check fundamental spatial frequency. A devised metric covering the dynamic range of polarization perception was repeatable, and the score derived from the metric was reduced in the abnormal group compared with the normal group (P < 0.001). Conclusions: Clinically useful metrics of polarization perception distinguish between normal and abnormal eyes. Translational Relevance: Perception of spatial patterns formed of non-uniform polarization fields has potential as a quantitative clinical diagnostic measurement
Original languageEnglish
Article number31
Number of pages13
JournalTranslational Vision Science & Technology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2020 The Authors. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License


  • Light polarization
  • Macular pigment
  • Vision
  • Vision testing
  • Visual dysfunction


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