In July 2014 Google signed a collaboration with a huge pharmaceutics company called Novartis to help bring their idea to life. It’s about launching the first digital contact lenses that can measure glucose levels in tears.
The Hardship of Diabetes Management
You might think, why would I need a pair of digital contact lenses that monitor my glucose levels. Well, the answer is that you don’t ! Unless you suffer from a condition called diabetes, of course.
Everybody knows of – or has at least heard of people suffering from diabetes mellitus (also known as type 2 diabetes). It’s one of the most important chronic diseases of the 21st century. It’s estimated that more than 350 million people are suffering from it worldwide, and the numbers are rising.
Amongst other things, people diagnosed with this condition need to carefully control their blood glucose levels, to avoid developing long-term, irreversible complications. You probably have seen diabetic people carry glucometers all the time and drawing blood from their fingers in order to check their glucose level multiple times a day.
We can all agree that this is inconvenient. That’s why, for many years now researchers have tried to develop better, easier and more agreeable methods to check your glucose levels.
Digital contact Lenses revolutionising Management of Diabetes
In March 2015 Google received a patent to produce digital contact lenses that can measure the glucose in your tears. Actually, this concept is pretty old, researchers have tried doing this since 30 years now. The original idea behind Google’s digital contact lenses was actually published by a group of researchers from the Department of Electrical Engineering of Washington University led by Babak Parviz in 2011.
The digital contact lens consists of a detection system using a micro-sensor that detects glucose very effectively through an electrochemical reaction using a glucose oxidase enzyme. The value is then transmitted through a tiny antenna as thin as a hair strand to a person’s device via a wireless signal.
These two components are sealed shut between two layers of contact lens material so they don’t come into contact with your actual eye. The front of the contact lens has a pore through which tears reach the sensor.
Pretty simple, right? This kind of technology available worldwide would make life easier to millions of diabetic patients. Just think about it – no more punctured fingers, no more pain, no more need to carry the good old glucometer everywhere you go, you can just wear a normal contact lens and get your glycemic values stored on your phone for easy access.
Actually in Google’s patent is mentioned that the receiver device can be an actual phone, a portable computer or even a piece of clothing or an accessory.
The only restriction is that it has to be in close vicinity to the contact lens. That’s even more awesome and cool because you have the flexibility to choose your own style.
Who would have thought that healthcare devices could be stylish? Of course, we still have to see the price tag of such a gadget, it may not be affordable for everyone, but the future is looking good.
Everywhere you look you see smart gadgets that manage your time and money, and now the time has come to implement gadgets for the actual benefit of your health.
For more exciting medical news, fun facts and advice on keeping healthy follow our MedKit series. If you missed this week’s episode you can access it here : How To Hack Your Biology And Be In The Zone Every Single Day – MedKit