Diabetes is a serious disease that affects millions of people worldwide. The World Health Organisation predicts that 171 million people are affected at present, with this number set to double by 2030. Diabetics experience periods of abnormally high or low blood glucose levels, which must be measured routinely for treatment to be effective.
Although reliable monitoring of glucose levels is already possible through regular blood testing, many people affected are inconsistent when taking measurements, putting them at risk from a range of complications. Current monitoring includes taking a blood sample from the finger multiple times a day. Not only is this painful and inconvenient but those who have suffered from the condition for an extended length of time find it difficult to extract any blood.
However, a new technology from Google may be set to change all that. The search engine giant has recently released information detailing a new method that may just replace the old system – a glucose detecting contact lens. Applied just like a normal contact lens, this innovation will monitor glucose levels in the individual’s tears once a second and feed the information back to a computer or smart phone.
The lens is discrete, wireless and does not adversely affect vision. Google is also developing a range of apps, one of which will record the wearer’s levels with the hope of sending the results straight to doctors. Alongside this Google is also looking into the possibility of installing LEDs that flash when glucose levels suddenly peak or drop, alerting the user and allowing them to administer appropriate treatment.
Although not in mainstream use yet, Google is working with the US Food and Drug Administration with the intention of making it available for regular medical use in the future. Google is also hoping to speed up the delivery of the product by recruiting help from other companies. Despite this the lens is only at the prototype stage and further testing and development are needed before the product can be released to the world at large.