Google working with FDA on ‘smart’ contacts

People with diabetes might be able to measure their blood sugar with new contact lenses featuring tiny microchips currently in development at Google.

The Internet giant, which has recently reached out to put its technology in phones, cars and homes, is working with the Food and Drug Administration on its new plans for “smart” contacts that measure blood sugar through tears in a person’s eye. According to the heads of the project, prototypes of the contacts are already able to measure blood sugar levels once per second.

“It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype,” project co-founders Brian Otis and Babak Parviz wrote in a blog post. “We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease.” 

To check their blood sugar, many people with diabetes need to constantly prick their finger to test drops of blood. That can be a painful and cumbersome process, and can lead "people with diabetes [to] check their blood glucose less often than they should,” Otis and Parviz wrote.

The smart lenses are designed to eliminate that step.

The team is working to develop tiny LED lights for the contacts that light up to tell people if their blood sugar level has climbed above or dropped below a certain point.

About 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control.