Have Diabetes? Save Your Eyes With New Smart Lenses
Diabetes affects 1 in 19 people, approx. 26 million people in the US, and yet managing the disease is still tremendously time consuming and burdensome. Patients need to be in constant control of their blood sugar levels, otherwise they risk doing short term damage like passing out while driving, or doing long term damage to their eyes, kidneys or heart.
Finger pricking using a Blood Glucose Meter like Bayer Contour is one way to test your blood sugar levels, but it only measures your current blood sugar level, giving you little insight into whether that level is rising or dropping. Your blood glucose levels can change dramatically after eating, exercising or even sweating, so having visibility into the trends of your levels is extremely important.
To get more value from finger pricking, you can connect your Blood Glucose Meter to a Bluetooth Glucose Data System like Ditto to start to see patterns across the day. Their system currently works for Android phones only and is compatible with 9 different Blood Glucose Meters.
It's compatible with 17 FDA cleared Blood Glucose Meters and just received FDA approval for their Android app, along with $7 million funding from Samsung, so they are moving forward fast.
Or you can use a Constant Glucose Monitor (CGM), like Dexcom, but I was shocked to learn what this involves. It's a lot more invasive. You have to insert a wire sensor into your abdomen, hold it in place with an adhesive strip, and attach a waterproof transmitter to it. The transmitter then sends a new glucose reading every 5 minutes to a receiver about the size and weight of an old mobile phone.
It gives you a deep insight into how your blood sugar levels change throughout the day, but you have to replace the wire sensor at least every 7 days, removing and inserting another one. Having helped a close friend complete a similar procedure on multiple occasions, I can say with conviction that this is not something you want to be doing in the long term.
When I learned about CGM's, I realised why the Google Smart Contact Lens project is being so well received. Imagine replacing finger pricks, and invasive sensor procedures with a simple contact lens.
It works by measuring the glucose level in tears, using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor, and claims to be able to take measurements once per second, externally powered like an RFID tag.
The International Diabetes Federation claim we are "losing the battle" against Diabetes, and even though the lens is still going through FDA approval, Google are hopeful this could help to change the situation. If successful, they will kill a lot of the Blood Glucose Meter companies, making all the work Glooko and Ditto have done to integrate their systems irrelevant. But that's the price of innovation.