“Smart” Contacts for Diabetes

A new “smart” contact lens is in the developing stages in hopes that it will help diabetics be able to monitor glucose levels through the liquid in their eyes. Wireless and remotely operated, diabetesglucose levels can be monitored without diabetics having to constantly think about it throughout the day. This could lead to further inventions of medications that can be applied directly into the membrane. What we know about new, “smart” contacts for diabetes…

“Smart” Contacts for Diabetes

While experts are calling this the first potential use of contact lenses to monitor diabetes, this invention actually comes after Google attempted and failed to launch Google Contact Lens in 2018. Google hoped their lenses could diagnose diabetes, but experts are predicting this new product could replace invasive blood tests for diabetics and also bring about new treatments for various eye diseases.

How Does it Work?

The device uses “chip technology to monitor sugar levels through the blood vessels behind the eyelids and warn the user of potential health emergencies.” The idea is for the lens to dispense medicine through the eye to treat diabetic retinopathy which consists of damage to the ocular blood vessels. Test rabbits were used to find that the lens did monitor glucose levels and properly controlled drug delivery for the diagnosis. One of the scientists on the development team is hopeful that the “smart contact lens could relieve diabetics from relying on invasive blood tests.” This idea has been considered for many years, but it has taken a lot to finally get the lenses to do what they are meant to. In 2014, Google began the process of developing a lens with the same goal in mind. However, in 2018, they ultimately reported “insufficient consistency in their measurements between tear glucose and blood glucose concentrations” needed to get accurate results from the lens. Scientists then discovered that the cornea’s surface allows for monitoring physiological changes throughout the body. The newest creation of the “smart” contacts includes “a real-time electrochemical biosensor, an on-demand flexible drug delivery system, a wireless energy transfer system, and a remote radio frequency communication system.” When tested on live diabetic rabbits, they found the lens delivered the genistein – used to treat diabetes – as effectively as a regular injection. Before any tests could take place, the research team used an infrared thermal camera to ensure the lens was safe. There is still plenty of further testing that needs to be done before experts can reveal whether or not these “smart” contacts will be beneficial in advancing diabetes healthcare.

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