Smart Contact Lenses May Soon Let Diabetics Monitor Glucose Levels With Just A Blink Of The Eye

Smart Contact Lenses May Soon Let Diabetics Monitor Glucose Levels With Just A Blink Of The Eye

This new tech possibly represents the first potential use of contact lenses to not only monitor by also treat the symptoms of diabetes using a remote control drug dispenser. 

Image Source: Getty Images/Guido Mieth (Representative)

A new, innovative smart contact lens is being developed, which would allow diabetics to easily monitor their glucose levels with the blink of their eyes. The wireless and remotely operated technology could soon detect glucose levels through the liquid present in their eyes. In addition to monitoring, the invention could even treat the condition by dispensing medicine directly into the membrane, reports Good News Network. According to scientists, this new tech possibly represents the first potential use of contact lenses not only to monitor but also to treat the symptoms of diabetes using a remote control drug dispenser. 



Researchers explained that the eyewear could be an alternative to invasive blood tests for diabetics while at the same time pave the way toward on-demand treatment for certain eye diseases. Using a chip technology, the device monitors sugar levels through the blood vessels present behind the eyelids. Furthermore, it warns the user of potential health emergencies. It can also treat diabetic retinopathy, a diabetes-related condition caused by damage to the ocular blood vessels, by administering medicine through the eyes. When the lens was tested on rabbits, it offered a noninvasive glucose monitoring and controlled drug distribution for the condition, per Science Daily.

Image Source: Getty Images (Representative)


"We developed smart contact lenses for both continuous glucose monitoring and treatment of diabetic retinopathy," explained study author Dr. Do Hee Keum of Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea. "Our smart contact lens has a unique function of ocular drug delivery." She added, "With further development and testing, the smart contact lens could relieve diabetics from relying on invasive blood tests while potentially paving the way toward the on-demand treatment of retinopathy and other eye diseases." It is not the first time that smart electronic contact lens devices have been investigated for diagnostic applications and widely researched to measure glucose levels of diabetic people. 



In 2014, Google announced they were developing a project called Google Contact Lens to help people with diabetes measure their glucose levels through their tears. Unfortunately, the plan for commercial development of the Google lens fell through after the team, despite their best efforts, reported inadequate consistency in their measurements between tear glucose and blood glucose concentrations to establish the requirements of a medical device. "The disappointing clinical results might be associated with the challenges of obtaining reliable tear glucose readings in the complex on-eye environment," continued Dr. Keum. 

Image Source: Getty Images (Representative)


"We believe that with proper calibration and baseline monitoring, the changes in glucose concentrations can be measured reliably for each patient using the smart contact lens," she added. After discovering that the surface of the cornea offers a convenient window to monitor physiological changes throughout the body, the team says they were inspired to develop the lens. "The surface of the cornea uniquely presents a convenient and noninvasive interface to physiological conditions in the human body. The eyes are directly connected to the brain, liver, heart, lung, and kidney and can serve as a window to the body," explained Dr. Keum. 



The researchers wanted the design to perform both functions of monitoring and dispensing drugs through the eyes, so they developed a smart contact lens that includes a real-time electrochemical biosensor, a wireless energy transfer system, an on-demand flexible drug delivery system, and a remote radio frequency communication system. During the study, live diabetic rabbits had the lenses inserted in their eyes, and scientists injected two units of insulin 15 minutes later to lower the blood glucose levels of the rabbits. The changes were monitored and the testes were repeated following the use of the lenses for 63 days to demonstrate their ability to remain stable over time. 

Image Source: Getty Images (Representative)


Following this, the lenses were remotely used to release genistein, a drug that treats diabetes, into the rabbits' eyes. When they measured the concentration in the cornea one hour later, they discovered that the lens delivered the drug as effectively as an eye injection. An infrared thermal camera was also used by the team to test the design for safety and found that the lens' temperature showed little variation. But additional research is still required for it to become a wearable device helping people with advanced diabetes. "This smart theranostic contact lens will be investigated further as a next-generation wearable device to achieve the real-time biosensing of ocular biomarkers and on-demand medication for ubiquitous health care applications to various ocular and other diseases," shared Dr. Keum.   

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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