10,000 new cases of diabetes are diagnosed every week in the US. This disease has many microvascular complications which can lead to heart disease, foot ulcers, blindness and death. Standard way to diagnose and monitor one’s sugar level is via the blood glucose test. Recently Google engineers have showcased a new way to monitor the glucose level. It may sound crazy but they have made a contact lens to measure the glucose level of tears. The technology is still in its primitive stage but its hard to say the validity it may have when compared to blood glucose. But if successful, this contact lens may help diabetics say goodbye to painful needles that they have to use several times a day to successfully monitor their blood glucose level.
In a blog post explaining the contact lens, Google said that glucose level in a human body can be measured from tears. “But as you can imagine, tears are hard to collect and study. At Google X, we wondered if miniaturised electronics—think: (silicon) 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,” the blog post explained.
Google X is special division inside the web company that works on future technologies. It is headed by Google co-founder Sergei Brin. Google Glass, which is essentially a small computer with a tiny head-mounted display, also came out of Google X. Glass too started as a prototype but last year it was sold to early adopters. It is likely to be widely available in retail stores this year.
The current prototype of the contact lens can record the glucose level every second. “The product measures glucose levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. We’re testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second. We’re also investigating the potential for this to serve as an early warning for the wearer, so we’re exploring integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds,” explained the official blog post.