Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2017

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/13/2018

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Mona K. Garvin

Second Advisor

Randy H. Kardon


Sensory deficits represent a major global public health problem. According to the World Health Organization, vision impairment affects an estimated 300 million people worldwide, and hearing impairment affects an estimated 360 million people worldwide. Consistent clinical evaluations for all individuals with sensory deficits cannot be practically realized due to the rising costs of healthcare, capital and labor limitations, and inaccessibility to healthcare due to a multitude of factors including proximity. The high prevalence of visual and hearing deficits can be lessened through consistent, comprehensive, at-home testing which can allow a larger amount of the affected and at-risk populations to be screened for abnormal function earlier and prior to permanent loss, and provide a wealth of patient-specific data that can be used to understand the time-scale of diseases and monitor the effectiveness of clinical interventions in unprecedented detail. While health-oriented smartphone applications exhibit a strong presence on the app stores, these applications are seldom vetted by expert scientists, engineers, and clinicians, and there are considerable opportunities for methodological improvements. The present work discusses the creation, calibration, and proof-of-concept, preliminary validation of a suite of psychophysical tests implemented as smartphone applications that can be utilized to rapidly and objectively quantify several functional sensory behaviors including flicker sensitivity, contrast sensitivity, visual acuity, and hearing-in-noise. Rigorous steps were undertaken to perform the necessary calibrations (a feat not routinely achieved by the creators of existing medical smartphone applications), and ensure the technical validity of the varying stimuli presented. Preliminary tests in the clinic have documented the potential of these tests to objectively provide numerous quantifications of, but not limited to, individual visual and hearing function, and variation between normal and abnormal subjects and function. The foundation laid by this work allows novel psychophysical tests to rapidly be implemented, vetted, and added to this battery of publicly and universally accessible medical smartphone applications.


Contrast Sensitivity, Flicker Sensitivity, Medical Smartphone Application, Vanishing Optotypes, Visual Acuity


xviii, 152 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 99-101).


Copyright © 2017 Kasra Zarei