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German researchers are working on eye sensors for diabetics
The Smart Diabetic Contact Lenses from Google was introduced on Friday. German researchers are also currently working on a similar development. The products could be on the market in two to three years.
A similar project to that of Google researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems (IMS) in Duisburg is currently working on a similar project to Google's recently introduced contact lens project for diabetics. Together with a Dutch company, Duisburg developed a tiny eye biosensor for glucose. "The concentration of blood sugar in the tear fluid is about 50 times lower than in the blood," says IMS business unit manager Tom Zimmermann. Changes would also occur there with a seven-minute delay.
Patient can put sensor in the eye himself The biosensor, which the diabetes patient can put in his eye, still works. According to the IMS, it is also not a problem to wear the tiny biosensor "in the eye" for weeks or even months. The sensor sends data to a device that is "the size of a small cell phone". This then also provides wireless energy for the measurement, explained Zimmermann. An oxidase contained in the biosensor produces hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), proportional to the glucose level. The more glucose the eye fluid contains, the more H2O2 is produced. By measuring the amount of H2O2, the glucose concentration can be deduced directly. The sensor then forwards the data. The entire diagnostic system is located on a chip measuring 0.7 by 10 millimeters.
Unsuitable for some people However, the device is unsuitable for some people, for example for people with very dry or watery eyes. The Fraunhofer researchers are working on the project with the Dutch company Noviosense in Nijmegen. The product should come onto the market in two to three years, ideally before the "intelligent contact lenses" from Google, as Noviosense general manager Christopher Wilson said. The first small attempts with humans are already there. "We are happy about the competition because it shows that the idea is good," said Wilson. Google's lens, which measures blood sugar levels and is intended to warn the wearer of fluctuations, is currently "at an early stage," according to the developers.
Intelligent contact lenses facilitate control Since the blood sugar level of diabetics often changes during normal activities (e.g. sports, eating), regular monitoring of the blood sugar values is of particular importance. Many diabetics have to use a special measuring device to analyze their values several times a day using a blood drop. A very annoying procedure that, in case of doubt, cannot detect spontaneous derailments of the blood sugar level. However, a sudden rise (high blood sugar) or a steep drop (low blood sugar) in blood sugar levels are extremely critical to health and require immediate countermeasures. Neglected controls can have extremely unpleasant consequences. Here, the intelligent contact lenses could help to detect and correct blood sugar derailments at an early stage. (ad)
Image: Henrik Gerold Vogel / pixelio.de