Lens gives diabetics hope

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2014
Google Lens

TEAR MEASURE: The Google smart contact lens designed to measure glucose levels in the tears of diabetes sufferers.

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A contact lens designed to measure the glucose levels in tears is pegged as the next big thing in diabetes management.

Google X Lab members Brian Otis and Babak Parviz have spent 18 months developing the prototype hoped to reach the consumer market within the next five years.

Diabetes affects more than 225,000 New Zealanders and has been referred to as an epidemic with 50 more people being diagnosed each day in this country alone.

Measuring blood glucose has been a pressing issue in recent times with complaints about the accuracy of the Pharmac funded CareSens meters.

Scientists have looked at using other bodily fluids to measure blood glucose to make the process easier for diabetics.

Tears provide an accurate reading but until now have been too difficult to collect.

The Google contact lens uses tiny sensors and an antenna "thinner than a human hair" embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material to measure the glucose levels in tears with pinpoint accuracy.

The prototype can generate a reading once per second without the need for painful finger pricking.

Mr Otis and Mr Parviz are looking to integrate miniature LED lights to indicate when glucose levels are outside of the safe threshold.

The pair is in discussions with the US Food and Drug Administration to make the lenses available to consumers.

"We've always said that we'd seek out projects that seem a bit speculative or strange.

"And at a time when the international Diabetes Federation is declaring that the world is losing the battle against diabetes we thought this project was worth a shot," Mr Otis and Mr Parviz said.

Go to googleblog. blogspot.co.nz for more information.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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