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Eye sensor could measure blood glucose

Scientists in Germany are working on a sensor that is implanted in the eye to measure blood glucose levels in people with diabetes.

The sensor works by measuring glucose in the interstitial fluid (a liquid that surrounds most of the body's cells) in the eye. Smaller than a grain of rice, the sensor contains a special chemical that gives off a fluorescent light when it comes into contact with glucose. If blood glucose levels are high, the fluorescent light shines more powerfully.

This type of light, cannot be seen by the human eye but can be picked up by a handheld device that converts the measurements into glucose readings. People with diabetes would need to hold the device up to their eye to get a glucose reading.

Each sensor would last about a year, after which it could be replaced with a new one.

Jemma Edwards, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK, said: “This technology is at a very early stage and has only been tested on five people. Therefore, at the moment, we would not predict that this will be a serious prospect for people with diabetes. If, in the future, the device is clinically proven to be as accurate as finger-prick blood glucose testing, it could be an option for some people with diabetes.

“However, this is a very invasive way of monitoring blood glucose levels. Some people may be uncomfortable about having a device in their eye, or anxious about the impact it could have on diabetic retinopathy – the leading cause of blindness in the UK’s working age population.

“The ideal for many people with diabetes is non-invasive blood glucose testing. Researchers are working on this and the signs are positive that they are close to achieving their goal. If proven effective and reliable, this technology would surpass any invasive testing methods.

“Many people with diabetes test their blood glucose levels several times a day. Where appropriate, accurate readings are essential to inform good diabetes control and prevent or delay the long-term complications of diabetes such as heart disease, stroke and blindness.”

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