New Device Offers Glucose Level Monitoring Through One's Tears

It is an important daily task for diabetics to self-monitor their blood sugar levels. But the most common method to do so requires the usual finger pricking in order to draw blood for testing. This may sometimes be too painful for some people to do on a regular basis which can lead them to neglect regular self-monitoring of their blood glucose levels. Another more convenient has been thought up recently that might help diabetics welcome blood sugar level monitoring more regularly.

A new type of blood glucose monitoring device is being developed by engineers from the Arizona State University and the clinicians from Mayo Clinic in Arizona. This new device is equipped with a sensor that will test glucose levels by way of a person’s tears. According to experts, glucose found in tear fluid may also be able to give an indication of a person’s blood glucose levels just as accurately.

According to Jeffery T. LaBelle, a bioengineer and the lead designer of the said device, “The problem with current self-monitoring blood glucose technologies is not so much the sensor.” LaBelle is also a research professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “It’s the painful finger prick that makes people reluctant to perform the test. This new technology might encourage patients to check their blood sugars more often, which could lead to better control of their diabetes by a simple touch to the eye,” he further added.

LaBelle and his team of engineers have teamed up with a team of physicians from Mayo Clinic which included Curtiss B. Cook, an endocrinologist, and Dharmendra (Dave) Patel, chair of Mayo’s Department of Surgical Ophthalmology. Early work on the sensor has been published last year in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology as well as reported in various regional and national conferences.

The team members first looked into how the current blood glucose monitoring devices were working- or failing- and how others have tried to develop other means to solve some of the monitoring problems. What the team has come up is a device that can be dabbed in the corner of the eye to retrieve a small amount of tear fluid through absorption which can then be used to measure glucose levels.

One of the major challenges that the team faces is how to perform the test quickly, more efficiently and with reproducible results, all without letting the tear test sample evaporate or causing the test subjects to rub their eyes too much when retrieving some tear fluid.

Source: Arizona State University. “New device holds promise of making blood glucose testing easier for patients with diabetes.” ScienceDaily 16 March 2011. 24 March 2011 <http://www.sciencedaily.comĀ­/releases/2011/03/110315163219.htm>


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