Google could soon be more than just a search engine for those with diabetes. Amid the hype surrounding creations like Google Glass, a new device designed to make hands-free communication easier, are technological advances that are spilling over into more areas of people’s lives than just the way they communicate or search for information. Google is changing the way people live, as well as the quality of their lives. The company looks to expand that reach into digital health and that can make a real difference in the health epidemics, such as diabetes, that the country currently faces. With Google technology, people may soon be able to manage diabetes through the use of a specially created contact lens.
Diabetes is a disease that has been linked to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, neuropathy, amputations and even death. The number of people suffering with the disease is staggering. It affects approximately one in 12 people in the U.S alone. According to the American Diabetes Foundation, about 26 million children and adults in the U.S. have diabetes. A healthy diet, exercise, and medication can help maintain blood sugar levels, but diabetics still find the disease difficult to manage at times. When blood sugar spikes, it can directly lead to irreversible damage.
Traditionally, diabetics have been inconvenienced by the necessity of frequent blood sugar testing. The readings are typically taken with a finger prick and a blood sample, then checked by a small scanner to get a reading. Google aims to change how this works, however. The company has created a way for diabetics to routinely check their blood sugar without additional supplies or finger pricks. The need for swabs, test trips, and glucose monitors would be eliminated by a specially created Google contact lens. The Google lens has the technology necessary to monitor blood sugar levels and alert the user when the number is out of the normal range.
Users can manage diabetes with the lenses that are designed with a wireless chip between two fused lenses that uses sensors to read tear drops and analyze blood glucose levels. Also being tested is the idea of using a small LED light to alert users when their blood sugar is too high or too low. The technology could put diabetics at a great advantage by providing an instant notification of when they enter the blood sugar danger zone and offer a warning to get blood sugar under control before it reaches a critical level.
The lenses that have been tested so far are capable of providing an accurate reading every two seconds, which gives diabetics immediate notification and ample time to solve the problem or secure medical assistance before long-term conditions adversely affect them.
Google has tested the contact lenses through clinical studies, but is still working out the details with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in an effort to get approval to put them on the market. Diabetics may soon have a less invasive way way to manage diabetes and monitor blood sugar levels with the Google lenses. The implications of this new technology, though, may offer hope for those suffering with other medical conditions as well. Google is expected to continue to expand their products in health technology in an effort to make a big impact in the medical field in the near future.
By Tracy Rose