• Korean scientists have shown that a soft, smart contact lens can be manufactured that monitors the wearer’s tear glucose levels and transmits them wirelessly in real time.
• The smart contacts tested were adequately transparent and operated properly with no adverse effects when tested in rabbit eyes.
• It appears that a smart contact lens that provides continuous glucose monitoring via tears can be mass-produce with high quality.
Many once bulky, rigid, and invasive real-time physiologic monitoring devices have become increasingly smaller, more malleable, and more comfortable for the wearer. An example is the soft contact lens—an established, well tolerated, and cost effective solution to vision correction that has been the subject of experimentation with microtechnology to create a “smart” device. But, it is unknown whether micro-monitoring sensors and transmitters can be safely and effectively combined in a soft contact lens making it capable of monitoring the wearer’s glucose levels.
Jihun Park and colleagues in Korea point out that some hurdles must be overcome prior to the widespread use of smart contact lenses. Such hurdles include: the opaque nature of most electronic materials, integrating circuit chips, metal antennas, and interconnects that may block vision.
The authors have introduced a new approach for the fabrication of soft, smart contact lenses that can overcome the problems of rigidity and opacity and they present their results in a recent Science Advances article.
► New more comfortable, less rigid electronics utilizing nanotechnology.
► Lenses are more flexible and less prone to breaking.
► Unlike previous attempts, the new lenses are less hazy, do not hinder vision and are less likely to damage the eye.
► The new lenses are able to emit a display image directly into the eye, which the authors note does away with the need for additional, unwieldy measurement equipment.
► This technology may be able to provide the user and the clinician real-time, wireless glucose levels in tears adequate for measuring fasting glucose levels in diabetic patients.
► The display would be able to alert the patient in the event of glucose levels in need of treatment.
Patients may be able to avoid painful fingersticks in lieu of a non-invasive soft, smart contact lens.
Source: Park J, Kim J, Kim SY, et al. Soft, smart contact lenses with integrations of wireless circuits, glucose sensors, and displays. Sci Adv. 2018:4;eaap9841.