Who would have thought that a contact lens could be used for more than providing clear vision? In fact there are many researchers trying to take advantage of these lenses intimate relationship with the eye. One such project involves diabetes, a disease affecting almost 30 million people in the United States alone!
The current technology and procedure for monitoring diabetes is a rather invasive and primitive process. However, researchers from Oregon State University are working towards developing a bio-sensing contact lens that may advance the technique of medical care for diabetes. This lens will be able to utilize “ultra-thin transistor technology” and the biochemistry of glucose (sugar) to measure slight changes in glucose levels present in our tear film. When glucose shows up in the tears, chnages take place in the chemistry of our tears. This shift causes an electrical current to flow to a transistor in the contact lens, which can then be transmitted onto a personal device such as your iphone.
The prototype will allow diabetic patients to monitor their own blood glucose level with a simple contact lens rather than having to prick their finger every day! There is a lot of optimism and high hopes for this technology, despite the contact lens being in the very early prototype stages. Researchers want to expand the spectrum of diseases that the contact lens is able to detect to include glaucoma, renal failure, cancer and other debilitating ailments. As of right now, the researchers are hoping to be able to proceed to animal trials in the coming year.
Blog contribution by Richard Nguyen Optometry Intern, College of Optometry, Western University of Health Sciences.