Google Developing “Smart” Contact Lens for Diabetics


By Haylee Fisher (@haylee_fisher)

Google has embarked on a new creative journey: the invention of a contact lens that helps diabetics monitor their glucose levels. The technology could eliminate the need for finger prick blood checks and other painful tests by measuring sugar levels through wearers’ tears.

The company has teamed up with researchers at the University of Washington to construct the prototype that features tiny wireless chips and sensors sandwiched between two lenses. They are able to measure blood sugar levels once per second through a tiny pinhole in the lens that lets tears spread across the glucose monitors. It also features an antenna that can send the information to a device like a cell phone where it can then be read. Google is working to add small LED lights inside the lens to warn users when their levels reach a certain point, be it too low or too high.

It’s important to note the contacts would lie in the periphery so they would not impede vision.

Google is working with the FDA and other partners to turn these prototypes into real products and are discussing how to bring the eventual finished version to the market. Their availability is still far off, though, because the FDA approval process is very demanding.

Diabetes affects nearly 400 million people worldwide. If left untreated, it can result in damage to one’s eyes, kidneys, heart, and nerves. Google’s contact lenses could be a game-changer in how people are treated for this potentially debilitating disease.

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