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Looking at Diabetes Without Fingerpricks

New Type of Glucose Monitor May be Used in Contact

WebMD Health News

April 16, 2003 - "Look into my eyes, is my glucose level OK?" An experimental new glucose monitor may soon allow people with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar levels by just looking at their eyes. The non-invasive glucose sensor could spare millions of people with diabetes the inconvenience of pricking their finger several times a day to check their blood glucose levels.

A study describing the new type of glucose monitor will appear in the May 1 issue of the journal Analytical Chemistry.

Although the product is about a year away from being tested in humans, researchers say the thin plastic sensor could be incorporated into currently available contact lenses, which would be replaced weekly.

The sensor is designed to detect glucose levels in body fluids like tears and changes color based on the concentration of glucose in the body. To monitor glucose levels, the user would just have to look into a mirror and compare the sensor's color to a color chart.

The sensor changes color from red, which indicates that glucose levels are dangerously low, to violet, which indicates dangerously high glucose levels. A normal glucose level is indicated by a green color.

Researchers say good control, which involves careful glucose monitoring, are essential to effective diabetes management, and there has been a growing demand for continuous, non-invasive methods of glucose monitoring due to the increasing number of people with diabetes.

"The current method of testing glucose in diabetes patients by drawing blood from a finger prick is uncomfortable and is dependent on patient skill and compliance for regular testing," says researcher David Finegold, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh, in a news release.

Researchers say they are still determining how many levels the sensor will be able to detect and indicate with a different color, but say it should be comparable to those found on the finger sticks used by conventional glucose monitors.

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