Google developing glucose sensing contact lenses for diabetes

Fri, 17 Jan 2014
Google have revealed they are developing a smart contact lens that can measure glucose levels within the fluid of the eye in a bid to provide continuous glucose monitoring in a non-invasive way for people with diabetes.

The contact lens is the same shape as a conventional contact lens but, between two layers of the lens, are a tiny sensor and microchip and an antenna that is thinner than a human hair. The researchers have been working on a prototype that could take a painless glucose reading once every second.

The glasses would not be measuring blood glucose levels but would instead measure the level of glucose in the tears which keep the eyes lubricated. Research has shown that glucose levels of tears rise and fall in a proportional response to rises and drops in blood glucose.

The rises and fall in glucose levels in tears will likely experience a delay of a number of minutes compared to changes in blood glucose and other factors such as crying or the effects of temperature and other climate variations will need to be tested to understand how glucose levels in tears respond.

The contact lenses are at an early stage of development and Google expects it to take at least five years before being commercially available.

Some people with diabetes, particularly those with type 1 diabetes, need to test their blood glucose levels several times a day, and even then sudden jumps or dips in blood glucose levels can still occur between tests. Currently continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) are available commercially but not on the NHS. The current CGMs require a sensor to be implanted under the skin every few days.
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