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New Glasses Can Detect Blood Glucose through Tears

Researchers in Sao Paolo Brazil and San Diego, California have developed glasses with a biosensor that can detect blood glucose levels. The study on the innovative glasses is published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics.  

How do the glasses measure blood glucose?

On the nose pads there is a sensor close to the tear duct, where it can identify the enzyme glucose oxidase, which detects blood sugar levels in tears. The levels in tears will match those in the blood. The device will also be able to measure vitamin and alcohol levels in the blood by changing out the nose pad electrode, as well as recognize chronic diseases and certain cancers. 

Lead researcher Lais Canniatti Brazaca said: “The concentrations of various metabolites in tears reflect concurrent blood levels, making them an attractive medium for non-invasive monitoring of physiological parameters.” 

In order to produce tears to stimulate the sensor, the person will expose their eyes to a stimulant for the lachrymal (tear) glands. It is unknown when the glasses will be available commercially, but researchers are aiming to release them within three years. 

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What is a biosensor?

A biosensor is a small device that can measure a chemical substance using both a biological element and an electrochemical element. Once the blood glucose (or other substance) level is detected, the device shares the information with a computer or smartphone. 

What are the implications?

With diabetes touching more and more lives every day, advances such as this are meaningful in providing noninvasive readings of blood sugar. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that diabetes will affect 580 million people by the year 2035, and the disease hits worse in low- and middle-income developing countries that have less access to healthy food, such as Brazil.

New devices such as these will pave a new way of detecting and managing diseases that are neglected in low-income and developing countries.