Google's Vision of Diabetes through a Contact Lens

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Amongst a prevalence of over 280 million people suffering from diabetes in our population and the current finger pricking method of testing for glucose levels in the blood, Google have been testing a smart method of monitoring diabetes through an unlikely tool - a contact lens, according to a Google blog and reviewed by Contact Lens Mail Ltd.

It involves a contact lens that contains tiny LED lights that would flash if glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds

Google recently posted a blog (can be read here) outlining a project that would assess the control of blood glucose levels. It involves a contact lens that contains tiny LED lights that would flash if glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds. This technique is still under investigation.

We know how much of a growing problem diabetes is. However, the real problem lies in its control. Uncontrolled diabetes causes complications of many structures and functions of body processes from the eyes to the feet. These complications could be dangerous and in extreme cases, fatal. Therefore, there is a growing need to encourage control.

Many diabetics will tell you of the difficulty in regularly assessing and managing their diabetes. Google describe it similar to "having a part-time job". In addition, the pain and hassle of pricking the finger is something many could do without.

It turns out that certain body fluids, including the tears can give an indication of glucose levels according to scientists. Google's answer is to insert a chip and sensor onto a contact lens that would then be placed on the eye of a diabetic. Uncontrolled diabetes would then be signalled if present.

Many would ask - why Google? They themselves suggest that they like to "seek out projects that seems a bit speculative and strange".

Kishan Devraj, optometrist and founder of Contact Lens Mail says "I think it's great that Google are using their resources and influence to tackle a problem that is real and growing. I see patients on a daily bases, many of whom manifest signs of uncontrolled diabetes in the eyes. At times they admit that measuring control is not always easy and so the idea of a contact lens fitted on the eye seems like the perfect solution".

Diabetic Jane, from London told me "It's hard enough living with diabetes. It's even harder when you have to worry about whether you're going to end up having a hypo because measuring the control is not always easy and convenient. A less invasive device that could monitor my glucose levels would mean less worrying and more living".

The details of the project are not yet clear. Google are still discussing it with the FDA and looking for experts. However one thing is for sure - there may be some hope and Google will probably play a big role in it.

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Kishan Devrai
since: 11/2012
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