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‘Smart contact’ lens displays glucose levels in real-time


Smart Contact Lens. Photo credit: Impact Lab

A new ‘smart’ contact lens could let diabetics monitor their own glucose levels with the blink of an eye. Experts say the soft, flexible contact lenses detect sugar levels in tears and delivers the results through the lens display.This alerts the wearer if their levels are too high by turning off a tiny embedded LED light.

Researchers say their approach, tested in rabbits, is the first to apply a display pixel into a soft contact lens to visualise glucose sensing.The method could one day be used to screen for the early warning signs of diabetes and daily glucose monitoring.

The lens is the creation of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in South Korea. They wanted to build a softer, more user-friendly smart lens capable of wirelessly monitoring glucose.The researchers developed a way to incorporate this ability into stretchy, transparent nanostructures glucose sensors, wireless power transfer circuits and display pixels capable of accessing real-time sensing data.


Project leader Jihun Park said: “Critically, this strategy does not require the expensive tools or brittle components currently used in many “smart” lenses, which can block the user’s field of vision and even harm the eye.

“Such systems also typically require bulky equipment to measure signals from the contact lens sensors.”The display pixels in the lens eliminate the need for additional measurement equipment.

The wireless display component of their system, which contains an antenna, rectifier, and LED pixel, can respond to changing glucose levels with the help of a graphene sensor.At the same time, it can display the glucose information through the LED pixel.

Park added: “After detecting the glucose level in tear fluid above the threshold, this pixel will turn off – a cue to the wearer.”To test their new device, the researchers placed the lens into the eye of a rabbit. They found they could successfully monitor an increase in glucose concentration wirelessly. They team say that their hybrid system can be applied to other areas.This could include smart devices for drug delivery, augmented reality, and even biomarker monitoring via a smartphone.
*Adapted from DailyMailUK Online

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