Depending on the specific application of a diffractive optical
element (DOE), its polarization impact on the optical system must be
taken into account. This may be necessary in imaging as well as in
illumination optics, e. g., in miniaturized integrated optics or in
high-resolution photolithographic projection systems. Sometimes, polarization effects are unwanted and therefore an exact characterization of their influences is necessary; in other cases a high polarization effect is the goal. It is well known how to calculate the point spread function (PSF) of a single diffractive micro-Fresnel lens. To do the same for a complete optical system with source, lenses, coatings, mirrors, gratings and diffractive elements, a 3D electrical field propagation along the geometric optical path is introduced into the ray-trace based optical systems design software in order to incorporate the entire electromagnetic polarization effects from the source to the image plane. Our software also considers the complex diffraction amplitudes including polarization effects from DOEs provided by rigorous electromagnetic methods. Together with a plane wave decomposition and with the local linear grating assumption, we are able to rigorously investigate the impact of e. g. polarization effects on the PSF of the whole optical system. Using this approach we analyze a hybrid diffractive-refractive microscope objective for mask inspection systems at 193 nm. Additionally we investigate focal properties of a sample diffractive blue laser disc pickup system.