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Technology company Verily has called off its project, which involved making contact lenses that measure blood sugar.
Diabetics often take blood samples using needles to measure the amount of sugar or glucose in their blood. However, because needles are only good for one-time use, the cost of using them builds up over time. In hopes of reducing the need for needles, some companies try to find alternative ways to measure blood sugar. Technology firm Verily attempted to solve the problem by developing a contact lens that can measure glucose levels in tears.
In 2014, the firm partnered with eye care company Alcon to create the contact lens. The collaboration led to the development of lenses that have a wireless chip and a glucose sensor.
Although the two companies successfully developed the lens, some experts questioned the device’s effectiveness. Their doubts were confirmed when the company recently tested the contact lens. Based on Verily’s findings, the glucose level measured in tears did not match the glucose level measured in blood. Thus, Verily decided to discontinue the project.
The failure of the contact lens can be attributed to two reasons. First, there are only minute amounts of glucose in the body, so it is difficult to detect and measure. Second, critics pointed out that the project was flawed from the get-go. According to John L. Smith, the previous chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson’s glucose monitoring division, tears cannot provide an accurate blood sugar reading. This is because glucose levels in tears tend to be lower than those in the blood.