Google’s new contact lens measures blood sugar

NEWS With a computer chip the size of a speck of glitter, Google thinks the may have a solution to continuous blood sugar monitoring. Google announced in its blog on Thursday (Jan. 16, 2013), they are testing a smart contact lens that can measure glucose levels in tears. The contact lens uses a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. Google is testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second. Google[x] looked at  miniaturized electronics to find a solution to a problem that affects one in nine Americans. The chips and sensors are so small they look like bits of glitter and the antenna is thinner than a human hair.

Google is also exploring integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds. The company reports they are still in the early phases of technology, but they have completed multiple clinical research studies to refine the prototype. Google says they are in discussions with the FDA, and are looking for partners to bringing this and other products like it to market. The hope is to work with partners who will use the smart contact lens technology to develop apps to make the measurements available to the wearer and their doctor.

Google says they ventured into this technology because diabetics report “managing their diabetes is like having a part-time job. As glucose levels change because of exercising, eating or even perspiring sudden spikes or precipitous drops are dangerous and not uncommon, requiring round-the-clock monitoring.” Even patients who wear glucose monitors under their skin, they still have to prick their skin, which is disruptive, painful and means patients don’t check blood sugar frequently enough.