Contact lenses could soon be able to tell you when you're ill
Smart contact lenses that are able to monitor blood glucose levels and other potential disease symptoms could become reality in the future, new scientific research suggests.
A group of researchers, doctors and scientists from the American Chemical Society have presented their findings at a conference in San Francisco, claiming that transparent biosensors could be embedded in contact lenses and potentially used as early warning systems against illnesses.
Dr Gregory S Herman, one of the leads on the research, said the continuous monitoring of glucose levels had the potential to replace some traditional ‘prick-and-test’ blood tests.
“These biosensors probably won’t put blood labs out of business,” he said.
“But I think that we can do a lot of diagnostics using information that can be extracted from tear drops in the eye.”
Dr Herman said the biosensors could replace existing electrodes as a way of providing continuous monitoring – a system that currently requires placing several electrodes under the skin, which can be painful and cause skin irritations and infections, Herman says.
According to the research, the technology involved in the creation of the lenses could see more than 2,500 biosensors – each capable of measuring a different bodily function – embedded in a one millimetre square area of the new contact lenses.
Once fully developed, the researchers say they could transmit health data to smartphones and other devices via Bluetooth or WiFi.
Technology giant Google has previously spoken of its own plans to develop smart contact lenses, capable of carrying out similar monitoring functions to help users track their health.