Electronic Contact Lenses for Blood Glucose Monitoring

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Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced. Ask anyone with the condition and they will tell you: using a spring-loaded needle to prick their fingers monitor blood glucose (i.e.sugar) levels several times a day is painful procedure.

Researchers from the University of Washington (UW) and Microsoft Research Connections are working together to develop a non-invasive, technological solution that promises to improve both the health and overall quality of life for people with diabetes: a contact lens that, instead of correcting vision, monitors blood glucose levels.

Electronic contact lens

Blood-glucose levels can be measured via sensors embedded in the contact lens. Using a type of micro heads-up display (HUD), the contact lens natural user interface (NUI), which makes interacting with the sensor seamless, would replace blood tests with real-time, continuous feedback of glucose and insulin levels to the wearer. The prototype contact lenses include an embedded LED display, a wireless data communication link and a power harvesting unit.

Bio-Nanotechnology professor Babak Parviz at UW, explains:

What is inside the blood, to a degree, appears on the surface of the eye. So there is a reflection of the body chemistry directly on the surface of the eye. If you have a contact lens that can sample that surface, analyze it, and maybe send out the information through a radio, this contact lens, in principle, can give us information about what’s happening inside the body without actually going into the body or collecting a blood sample.

Source: Microsoft Research

About the Author

Walter Jessen is Principal at Highlight Health Media, which publishes Highlight HEALTH Tech. He's also a senior writer at Highlight HEALTH Tech.