Smart contact lens for diabetics

1 min read

Biosensing contact lenses capable of detecting glucose levels in patients with diabetes have been developed by a team of UNIST researchers.

The smart lens has built-in pliable, transparent electronics and is said to be able to monitor glucose levels from tears in the eye.

The lens contains a glucose sensor is designed to send electrical signals to an LED, enabling patients to transmit their health information in real-time using the embedded wireless antenna in the lens.

The device is yet to be tested on humans, but the team has claimed a prototype was successfully used on a live rabbit via non-invasive in-vivo testing. The rabbit showed ‘no signs of abnormal behaviour’ during repeated eye blinks and the LED pixel turned off when tear fluids with glucose concentration were over the threshold, UNIST claimed.

During the wireless operations, UNIST added, the lens could also still maintain the eye temperature stably without abrupt heating.

Previous attempts have been made to create smart lenses, but comfort has proved to be an issue, explained UNIST. To overcome this challenge, the team used electrodes comprising stretchy and transparent materials.

"These smart contact lenses are made of transparent nanomaterials and therefore, do not obstruct the wearer's view," said Jihun Park in the Combined M.S./Ph.D. of Materials Science and Engineering, the first author of the study. "Besides, because the system uses wireless antenna to read sensor information, no separate power source, like a battery, is required for the smart contact lens sensors."

"Our smart contact lens provides a platform for wireless, continuous, and non-invasive monitoring of physiological conditions, as well as the detection of biomarkers associated with ocular and other diseases," added Professor Jang-Ung Park in the School of Materials Science and Engineering. "It also offers the potential for expanded applicability in other areas, such as smart devices for drug delivery and augmented reality.”

Despite the lack of human testing, the researchers expect its creation to offer diabetics a pain-free way to measure their glucose levels.

"We are now a step closer to the implementation of a fictional idea for a smart contact lens in the films, like ‘Minority Report’ and ‘Mission: Impossible’.”