Contact Lenses that can Detect Glucose Levels

Innovative research comes in many shapes and sizes. Here at Polymer Solutions, we’re able to interact with that research in a direct way through our testing capabilities and analysis. One area that sees constant, impactful innovation is medical device development.

With cutting-edge science and everyday technology advancing at such a fast pace, it’s amazing to see what’s possible. Whether it’s pacemakers that interface with your smartphone or polymers that help fight hospital associated infections, we’re seeing a renaissance that blends medical treatment with computer technology.

That’s why we’re excited and following a story about a patent that Google submitted to create a digital sensor in contact lenses to detect glucose levels through the eye’s natural tears. According to the CDC, more than 30 million Americans wear contact lenses. 29.1 million Americans are diabetic, and worldwide nearly 400 million people suffer from diabetes. This kind of new technology could positively impact millions of lives.

Let’s take a look at the polymers that make contact lenses work as well as the innovative sensors that make glucose monitoring possible.

How Contacts Work

Contact lenses have been around since the 1800’s, however, soft contacts, as we know them today, are a far more recent innovation. Bausch + Lomb first pioneered the soft contact lens, releasing the first soft lens to the market in 1971.

boy-with-contact-lensIn 1999, the first silicone hydrogel lenses were available to consumers. This gas permeable and water absorbable polymer technology transformed the comfort, effectiveness, and sanitation for contacts lens wearers.


As this exciting polymer continues to be the industry-standard for contact lenses today, it’s no wonder companies like Google are continuously looking towards this polymer for cutting-edge research.

How Blood Sugar Monitoring Usually works

For those with diabetes, glucose monitoring is a daily reality. Traditional glucose monitoring requires an electronic monitor and disposable test strips. Because some individuals suffering from diabetes must test their blood up to 12 times a day, those test stripes can become quick costly. The New York Times said that diabetes patients spend an average of $6000 a year on costs for treating their condition.

handheld-glucose-meterFor those dealing with this chronic condition, innovation seems slow moving. Handheld glucose meters have been the standard monitoring practice for many years. The promise of new smart lenses brings relief to those that are faced with this daily reality.

Melding The Two

When you meld contact lens technology with diabetes monitoring technology, there is immediate quality-of-life improvement for those suffering with diabetes.

Since glucose can be measured through tears, contacts are a minimally-invasive way to track and control glucose levels. With this new contact lens technology, the wearer is able to track their blood glucose levels throughout the day without stopping to test their blood manually. While this won’t completely replace manual glucose monitoring, it will certainly decrease the continuous pain and inconvenience that diabetic patients face everyday.

We’re proud to weigh in on a technology that stands to make the world a better place and improve the lives of many. The testing services we’re able to provide in our labs helps the medical device and pharmaceutical industries not only create new products but have a direct, positive impact on patients lives around the world. If that’s not a good reason to love what we’ve been doing for over 30 years, we don’t know what is.


  1. I am a chemical engineer who has used a CGM, (continuous glucose monitor) for about 15 years. I am here to say that I would not want to go back to those dark years of not knowing my BG on a continuous basis. Even so, I estimate my current model is only accurate 85% of the time and the biggest issue is the time lag associated with it, which is about 15-25 minutes. What I mean to say is that it is pretty good at telling you what your BG level was 25 minutes ago 85% of the time. This is just one reason why automatic feed-back control does not make sense. My question is this. Does this new technology address these 2 concerns?


    1. Hi Eric,
      Thank you for reaching out! You are welcome to email to discuss your question in more detail.
      Best wishes,
      Amanda, PSI Blog Team


  2. It is interesting to note there are contact lenses that do not only help you see clearly without glasses but also detect glucose levels. I think that is a great breakthrough and innovation as the contact lenses can serve two purposes at the same time. If that is really the case, I will probably wear contact lenses instead of eyeglasses because I like the idea of my lenses finding out my glucose level as well.


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