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[IP] Contact lens measures glucose


Experimental product detects blood sugar in tears, study says

By Jacqueline Stenson

PHILADELPHIA, June 25  People with diabetes may one day wear contact lenses 
that not only correct their vision but also painlessly measure their blood 
sugar, preliminary research suggests.

        SCIENTISTS AT CIBA Vision, a contact lens manufacturer, have 
developed a disposable lens that detects levels of blood sugar, or glucose, 
in tears.
       To get a reading, the patient shines ordinary light on the eyes using 
a small hand-held device that also records the glucose level in the tears, 
researchers said. The light interacts with fluorescent molecules in the lens 
that bind to glucose. The higher the glucose, the greater the fluorescence.
       A pilot study presented here Monday at the annual meeting of the 
American Diabetes Association found that the system was almost as accurate 
as the standard finger-prick test that diabetics are advised to perform 
several times a day to ensure that their blood sugar is in good control.
       We got very good correlation between blood glucose and the 
fluorescence reading in the contact lens, said study author Carol Morris, a 
researcher at CIBA Vision in Atlanta.

       The study was small  involving just nine diabetic patients and three 
non-diabetic controls. And subjects only wore the lenses for four hours. But 
the researchers are hopeful that the lenses may one day offer patients a 
new, pain-free way to measure their glucose levels.
       Were very optimistic, but this is preliminary, Morris said. The 
next step would be to run a large clinical study.
       No side effects were observed and the patients didnt mind shining 
the light in their eyes, she said.
       On the downside, the new lenses didnt pick up high glucose levels as 
fast as the blood tests. There was an average delay of about 7 minutes, 
according to Morris.
       In addition, disco dancers may find one aspect of the lenses 
undesirable  or amusing. Just as white clothing tends to glow under party 
lights, so may the lenses, Morris said.
       Diabetes afflicts an estimated 16 million Americans. The more common 
form of the disease, known as type 2 diabetes, results when the body does 
not make enough, or fails to properly use, insulin. Cases of type 2 diabetes 
are soaring due to increasing obesity and sedentary lifestyles.
       Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition that generally develops in 
childhood and runs in families, makes up 5 percent to 10 percent of cases. 
People with type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin because their immune 
system attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin is 
necessary for cells to convert glucose into energy. When insulin is 
unavailable, blood levels of glucose build up.
         The new contact lens is part of a concerted effort among scientists 
to create needle-free care for diabetics, said Dr. David Klonoff, 
editor-in-chief of the journal Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics and a 
clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San 
       Klonoff said the CIBA lens is promising, but more studies are needed 
to see how well it works and if its safe.
       Already on the market is GlucoWatch, a wristwatch-like device that 
detects glucose through the skin. While reducing the number of times a 
patient needs to do the finger tests, the device has not been proven 
effective enough to completely replace them.

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