Google unveiled Thursday a smart contact lens that monitors glucose levels in tears, a potential reprieve for millions of diabetics who have to jab their fingers to draw their own blood as many as 10 times a day.
Google hopes the lenses can help diabetics regulate their blood sugar levels more effectively and avoid having to test their blood throughout the day. But, the company said, “there’s still a lot more work to do to turn this technology into a system that people can use.”
You’ve probably heard that diabetes is a huge and growing problem, affecting one in every 19 people on the planet, but you may not be familiar with the daily struggle that many people with diabetes face. Uncontrolled blood sugar puts people at risk for a range of dangerous complications including damage to the eyes, kidneys and heart.
There is also a team at Sweden’s Malmo University that has developed a lens similar to Google’s contact lens and which uses a fuel cell that runs on tears. Other researchers in the U.S. and elsewhere have been working on similar projects, too.
Google won’t be doing this alone. The company is talking with the FDA to make sure it gets things right and are looking for partners that have more experience in bringing products like this to the market. Thay said, “these smart contact lenses are not the fantasy eye pieces of science fiction, so don’t expect any fancy Heads Up Displays (HUD) here. At least not yet. Google does plan on integrating at least LED lights that will give the user immediate feedback should glucose levels go beyond certain limits, but that might be the current extent of technology possible at this time”.
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