Researchers from Korea have designed a new type of stretchable contact lens that is able to monitor the blood glucose level of the wearer without distorting their vision. The lenses have all the electronic components needed to receive wireless power, monitor glucose levels, and generate an LED display while being soft, stretchable, and transparent.
The researchers say that the device is “close” to a solution that a patient would wear. The idea is that the lenses would be able to monitor glucose levels for type 1 diabetics who normally have to prick fingers to draw blood to test glucose levels. The lenses would be passive tracking and would need no blood to give a reading.
The improvement on these new lenses compared to others that have been developed is the soft and flexible nature. Previous lenses from Verily had hard electronics embedded inside. The prototype of the new lenses has hardware that shows a LED light that stays on when glucose levels are in the normal range.
When glucose levels are outside the normal range, the LEDs turn off. It seems like no light would be a better indication of normal glucose to me. The challenge for the current prototype of the lens is that the wireless power must be no further than nine millimeters away for the lenses to work.
That would presumably mean that the power source needs to be on glasses worn by the user, 9mm is less than half an inch. The researchers plan to apply the design of the smart contact lens they have designed to other medical applications, such as drug deliveries. The glucose monitoring lenses aim to be commercialized in the next five years.