Contact Lenses that Check Blood Sugar?

8:01 PM

In the next few years your optometrist may be fitting contact lenses for more than just your eyesight!

Contact lenses are more than just a way to restore vision without glasses, they are a highly advanced medical device that scientists are still learning how to utilize!  Contact lenses can be used as clear bandages to heal large abrasions.  Biomedical companies are developing ways to use them for delivering doses of antibiotics or other medications to the surface of the eye over a long period of time.  New research is now being reported that we may be able to use contact lenses in people with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar without painful finger stick tests.

At the University of Akron, professor Jun Hu has applied a chemical coating to contact lenses that react to glucose levels in tear film.  The coating is comprised of a molecule that binds to sugar in the tear film, and at a certain concentration, will cause a color change reaction.  Imagine a pH test with its color  scale, and you get a similar picture.  When the level of glucose returns to normal in the tear film, the color of the contact lens would again normalize.

In his initial proposal, Hu suggests the patient will wear the lens in 1 eye, and then take a picture of their own eyes with a free smartphone app to monitor for changes. The app will compare the color difference between the normal eye and the eye with the contact lens to calculate the blood glucose levels.  The color change will be subtle, without affecting vision or comfort of the contact lens.

Microsoft is researching an electronic sensor implanted
inside the contact lens
A timeline for the product reaching the market is still at least three years away.  At the same time, other companies are researching using electronic sensors inside contact lenses to detect glucose level in the tear film.

Sources:  High-tech contact lenses: Glucose Monitoring by Dr. Goodfellow and Dr. Maino published in AOA News

You Might Also Like