Healthcare Tech: Google Announces Glucose Sensor Contact Lens Prototype

Healthcare Tech: Google Announces Glucose Sensor Contact Lens Prototype

Google announced Thursday that it has designed a glucose sensor contact lens that is in a prototype stage. The contact lens will assist diabetics in monitoring and managing their blood sugar levels. I have no connection with the project but sourced some additional information from public sources online (like everything on this blog, the below does not represent the views of Google!)

Image of Google's Prototype Glucose Monitor Contact Lens

Image of Google’s Prototype Glucose Monitor Contact Lens

The lens, designed by the Google X lab, measures glucose levels in tears continuously, using a wireless chip and a miniaturized glucose sensor, making testing blood sugar levels far less invasive than the typical method of measuring glucose levels in a blood sample provided by finger pricking. Additionally, being that the lens would be worn throughout waking hours, it would provide continuous glucose testing, diminishing risks associated with infrequent testing, such as blindness or kidney failure.

The chip and sensor in the lens are embedded between two soft layers of contact lens material, so as to avoid  direct contact between the wearer’s eye and the chip/electronics. A pinhole in the surface exposes the tear sensor. Advanced engineering was used to miniaturize the integrated circuits and glucose sensor to an unprecedented degree. The system is powered wirelessly via radio frequency waves, which allow for glucose readings once every second, and vision is not inhibited since the electronics are on the periphery of the iris.

The National Diabetes Education Program estimates that 382 million people worldwide and more than 8 percent of all Americans have diabetes, so technology like this could make living with this condition less inconvenient and painful for a whole lot of people if brought to market.