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Wearable contact lens shown to measure glucose levels

By Editor
9th February 2018
Eyecare, Research

Contact lenses that measure glucose levels could be made available for people with diabetes within a matter of years, researchers have said.

The innovative smart lens have built-in pliable, transparent electronics that monitor glucose levels from tears in the eye. A tiny LED display embedded inside a lens, alerts the wearer when their blood sugar levels are too low.

Although the device has not yet been tested in humans, it has been trialled in rabbits which have shown no adverse effect to wearing them.

Previous attempts to develop similar products have not been all that successful due to being too bulky and uncomfortable for the wearer. The materials also proved to be too expensive meaning it would be very difficult to mass produce and be affordable.

Researchers at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea have worked together to create the innovative product.

Professor Jang-Ung Park, an associate professor at the UNIST who worked on the project, said: “These smart contact lenses are made made of transparent nanomaterials and therefore do not obstruct the wearer’s view. Because the system uses wireless antenna to read sensor information, no separate power source, like battery is required for the smart contact lens sensors.

“Our smart contact lens provides a platform for wireless, continuous, and noninvasive monitoring of physiological conditions, as well as the detection of biomarkers associated with ocular and other diseases. It also offers the potential for expanded applicability in other areas, such as smart devices for drug delivery and augmented reality.”

If the researchers receive enough funding, they think they can commercialise the product in the next five years.

Professor Park added: “Our lens fabrication uses conventional fabrication processing steps of typical electronic devices. So the mass production of our contact lens will be possible.As the next step, we are doing research into fabricating a smart contact lens with multiplexed sensors, which can monitor chronic diseases.”

Their findings have been published in the January edition of the Science Advances journal. To read the study, click here.

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