One in every nineteen people suffer from diabetes today, and this number is set to rise as our lifestyles and eating habits become more unhealthy. By 2035 it is predicted that this number will rise to one in ten. An important part of caring for and managing diabetes it getting your blood sugar levels checked. This helps to prevent long term problems associated with the condition and to identify when the levels are dangerously high or low. Currently the testing involves frequent and painful tests many times per day.
Technology giants, Google, have stepped in, and are developing an alternative method which will be painless, non invasive and accurate! The method involves implanting a tiny glucose sensor, an antenna as thin as a hair and a chip the size of one piece of glitter into a contact lens. When tears that are produced naturally by the eye touch the sensor, it is able to measure the glucose levels, and it can do this once per second! It is powered by a miniature wireless capacitor, making the whole package portable and more importantly, virtually invisible.
The technology is currently at an early stage, as Google hopes to add more functionality before its general release. The next step forward will be to add an LED warning system that flashes when the eyelids are closed. This will help to alert the patient to changes to glucose levels that cross the danger thresholds.
The Smart Contact lens will be just the start of a new generation of preventative miniaturised healthcare systems. Googles technology will accelerate wearable devices that can use smartphone apps as monitors. There are already several smart watches that are being developed that monitor heart rate and temperature. Scientists in Japan have also developed a ‘smart wig’ with healthcare cited as one of its many uses.