A methodology for generating polarized light retardation and alignment direction images is presented. A rotated quarter-wave plate changes the linear polarized light to a polarized probe with various degrees of ellipticity by which samples are imaged with the use of a circular analyzer. A harmonic representation of image intensity allows simple analysis, requiring only simple image operations and realizing four orders-of-magnitude computational savings for strongly aligned tissues, where linear birefringence is the dominant optical property. The method is demonstrated for a porcine heart valve leaflet.
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