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Google's Smart Contact Lenses Could Transform Diabetes Care

Image: Google's Smart Contact Lenses Could Transform Diabetes Care

By Clyde Hughes   |   Friday, 17 Jan 2014 01:23 PM

Google hopes to help diabetics with the most annoying part of controlling the disease by replacing painful needle pricks with smart contact lenses that monitor a wearer's blood sugar.

Google's smart contact lens prototypes are outfitted with tiny wireless chips and glucose sensors, which are able to measure the blood sugar level of a person's tears one time per second, CNN reported. The company, better known for its Internet search engine, is now looking to add an LED light inside the lenses that would flash whenever those levels are too low or too high.

The contact lenses could replace the painful needle pricks diabetics must now give themselves in order to test their blood sugar, CNN noted.

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"We're in discussions with the FDA, but there's still a lot more work to do to turn this technology into a system that people can use," Google said Thursday in a post on its official blog.

The company also said it wants to find partners to help bring the contacts to market.

Microsoft first introduced the concept of smart contact lenses for diabetics back in 2011, according to TechCrunch.com. Babak Parvis, a former professor at the University of Washington, worked on that project in connection with Microsoft is now working with Google on its prototype and its Google Glass project

Though they might not have the ability to measure glucose, there are other smart contact lenses on the market. Sensimed Triggerfish has developed a disposable contact lens that uses sensors to measure changes in the eye to personalize glaucoma treatments for patients, according to TechCrunch.com. The website said the technology has been used in Europe since 2010 but has yet to meet FDA approval.

In recent years, Google has been diversifying its portfolio as it delves into new markets beyond its namesake search engine. The company continues to experiment with the development of a self-driving car and balloons that beam wireless Internet to isolated parts of the world along with healthcare technology.

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