Company Stops Making Special Contact Lens that Measures Blood Sugar

Category : Technology/Innovations

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. call off / kɑːl ɑːf / (phrasal) – to cancel

    The company called off its project because of financial issues.

  2. build up / ˈbɪldˌʌp / (phrasal) – to slowly increase as time passes by

    Our factory’s expenses will build up over time if we don’t find more efficient machines.

  3. minute / maɪˈnuːt / (adj) – very small

    The company developed a very powerful lens that helps see very minute particles in the air.

  4. flawed / flɑːd / (adj) – having imperfections

    My boss found my proposal flawed, so he disapproved it.

  5. from the get-go / frɑːm ðə ɡet ɡoʊ / (idiom) – from the start

    If they did more research from the get-go, they would have realized sooner that their idea was wrong.


Read the text below.

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.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• How do you think Verily could have avoided cancelling the project?
• How do you think the failure of the project affected Verily? Discuss.

Discussion B

• If you can improve or enhance a contact lens, what features would you add? Discuss.
• Who do you think would benefit most from your idea? Explain.

Category : Technology/Innovations