Britons with type 1 diabetes can now monitor their blood sugar level more easily over a 24-hour period, with the use of soft contact lenses.
In South Korea, researchers have developed an existing technology that integrates a glucose-monitoring system into the lenses. Unlike the previous lenses, the enhanced version is less rigid, more stable and comfortable for everyday use. As the technology develops and becomes more widely known, opticians throughout the UK ‒ from Crowborough to Carlisle ‒ and diabetes specialists will be able to offer advice on the new product.
The soft contact lens monitors your blood sugar level in tears through wireless data transmissions sent to a handheld device. The older designs had to use stiff electronic software that normally breaks down after a short time, making them inefficient for daily wear. Jang-Ung Park, the lead researcher, said that this led to problems such as distorted vision and possible eye damage.
If your blood sugar increases significantly, an LED display in the lens will emit a non-harmful light that serves as a warning signal to the user. The technology will likely become commercially available in five years since the researchers still need to test contact lens on humans. For now, finger pricking remains the most common method to measure glucose levels among diabetes patients.
While the new contact lens seems promising, it may be too late for some patients. A separate study showed that cataract has a higher chance of occurrence among Britons with diabetes than the general population.
Diabetic patients between 45 and 54 years old face the highest risk. The study based its findings on medical records of more than 56,500 patients between 40 years and above. It revealed that the diagnostic rate reached 20.4 per 1,000 diabetic persons compared to 10.8 per 1,000 people without the illness.
Monitor your sight
Whether or not the new contact lens technology becomes safe for daily use, people with diabetes should still consult with an optician for their vision problems due to a higher risk of cataract.