Hydrogel lenses could alert the diabetics to eat or take insulin
Diabetics are encountering the unenviable task of checking their blood sugar levels constantly, usually through a repeated ritual of pin-pricks and blood drawing. But a new non-invasive technology developed by a biochemical engineer at the University of Western Ontario lets diabetics check on their glucose levels with contact lenses that change colors as their blood sugar rises and falls.
Nanoparticles embedded in the hydrogel lenses react with glucose molecules in naturally occurring tears. A chemical reaction then causes the lenses to shift their hues, alerting the wearer to falling or spiking blood sugar levels. The wearer can then make the appropriate adjustments to his or her blood sugar, all without having to carry around (and use) devices for drawing and analyzing blood.
The head researcher Professor Jin Zhang from Laboratory for Multifunctional Nanocomposites, University of Western Ontario, has received $216,000 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation as a result of the breakthrough process to develop other applications for multifunctional nanocomposites.
Aside the application in biomedicine, the nanocomposite films could be used in food industry in order to prevent food spoilage by preventing oxygen, carbon dioxide and moisture from reaching fresh meats and other foods, or by measuring pathogenic contamination. Another usage for these films could be found in packaging where it could make waste increasingly biodegrade.
Although it might seem a bit odd until we get used to the eye-color-changing phenomenon, if proven useful to various types of diabetes it could be a good way to help diabetics. It will also help the people in their lives to be more aware of their needs. In that manner you could help by warning a diabetic to eat something at that moment, before the blood sugar levels get too low, or whether the insulin is needed in case it was too high.