What is Google doing with a smart contact lens? We are testing a prototype for a smart contact lens that we built to measure glucose in tears continuously using a wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor. We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease.
Many people with diabetes live with painful and disruptive daily routines for managing their glucose levels, such as wearing continuous glucose monitors embedded beneath their skin and finger-pricking to take a blood test. As a result, many people check less often than they should. This raises their risk of developing dangerous complications associated with uncontrolled blood sugar, such as kidney failure and blindness.
As a result, many researchers have spent years looking for alternative, less invasive methods for measuring glucose levels in the body, such as via sweat, saliva, urine or tears. Trying to crack the mystery of tear glucose Scientists have long known that tears contain glucose. Unfortunately, it?s extremely hard to study tear fluid in its natural state. It?s only available in very small quantities, and it?s difficult to collect without disrupting the eye?s natural state (imagine plucking a nose hair and then sticking a piece of paper in your eye). This means it?s incredibly difficult to answer the kinds of questions you need to answer if tears are to be seen as a possible path to a new way of managing diabetes.
For one, you need to be able to explore the correlation between tear glucose and blood glucose, e.g. what it is, how close, if/how anything affects it, if there?s lag time, etc. And you need to know the basics of tear glucose itself, e.g. how much there is, how it?s affected by factors like illness, exercise, sleep, a windy day, a humid climate, lying down vs standing up…you get the idea. Tiny tech We wondered if miniaturized electronics ? think chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter, and an antenna thinner than a human hair ? might be a way to crack the mystery of tear glucose and measure it with greater accuracy.
We hope a tiny, super sensitive glucose sensor embedded in a contact lens could be the first step in showing how to measure glucose through tears, which in the past has only been theoretically possible. The chip and sensor are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. A tiny pinhole in the lens allows tear fluid from the surface of the eye to seep into the glucose sensor. The prototypes we?re testing can take a glucose level reading once every second
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