Nanotechnology, Diabetes, and Eyes.. Oh My!

Nanotechnology, Diabetes, and Eyes.. Oh My!

As an optometrist, I see patients managing diabetes everyday.  I usually ask about their blood sugar control and some are honest and tell me they don’t keep up with their measurements because they hate pricking their fingers with the needle.  I recently read an article about a small non-invasive chip that monitors sugar levels in sweat or tears that would make my patients’ lives so much easier!

Researchers in Germany (Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems) have come up with a way to continuously and non-invasively measure sugar (glucose) levels through bodily fluids such as sweat and tears.  This device is a nano-sized biosensor chip that measures 0.5mm by 2mm.

How does it work?  The enzyme glucose oxidase converts glucose into hydrogen peroxide and other chemicals.  The concentration of these by-products are directly correlated with the the amount of glucose and can be measured by the nanopentiostat in the device.  The chip converts the electrochemical signals from the nanopentiostat to digital data that is transmitted wirelessly to a mobile device.

This device can be worn for weeks or even months because they are very energy efficient.  The idea is that a patient can have this chip sit below the eye where there are tears so that continuous glucose measurements can be monitored.  The next step would require an implant of a small insulin pump that could inject the proper amount of insulin based on the measured glucose levels.  This would allow for continuous glucose control for diabetic patients without a single prick to their finger!

Picture source:  http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2012/september/measuring-glucose-without-needle-pricks.html

Vancouver Kerrisdale Optometrist

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