The Contact Lenses that Can Monitor Your Blood Sugar

It seems technological advances improve our lives on a daily basis with new tech innovations hitting the market at a record pace. When these inventions are applied to healthcare, those advances can have a significant effect on the quality of our lives and our ability to better care for ourselves. Such is the case with the latest medical innovation to make it into the public eye: contact lenses that can monitor your blood sugar.

Following the trend to develop “smart” devices, Korean researchers are hopeful that they will soon be able to market their “smart” contact lenses. These lenses will employ sensors that can monitor the wearer’s blood glucose. This is an especially promising innovation because it makes use of the correlation between diabetes and vision changes.

Interested consumers won’t find this product on the shelves just yet, though. At this time, the contacts have only been tested on rabbits, so it may still be some time before they’re commercially available.

Science Advances reported on the findings from the animal study, which has been conducted by researchers at South Korea’s Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology. The contacts use the rabbit’s tears to measure the glucose levels of the subject. A high glucose level causes an LED pixel in the contact to shut off, alerting the wearer of the spike.

While the researchers are hopeful that the contact will help eliminate the need for bulkier blood sugar monitoring equipment, they also perceive broader implications for the study. From monitoring prescription drug delivery to assisting in augmented reality, they hope these smart lenses will open up a whole new future for wearable tech.

This isn’t the first time the world has been promised a contact lens capable of measuring blood sugar levels. In 2014, Google also announced it was working on developing similar devices. The Google model would incorporate a wireless chip and mini-sensor into the lens that would monitor glucose levels.

Verily is the company directly overseeing the project for Google parent company, Alphabet. Verily specializes in developing healthcare-related technology. Before Verily can market the lens in the United States, it will first have to pass FDA testing. In doing so, they will have to prove that the lens is safe and accurately tests glucose levels. Once approved, the lens could mean an end to the finger pinpricks that diabetics currently have to endure.

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