Scientists develop contact lenses that tell you when you get sick

Apr

5

2017

Contact lenses are able to detect low blood sugar levels.
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Researchers at the University of Oregon have developed contact lenses with the ability to alert users when their blood sugar drops or when a problem occurs with one of their organs, using the ability of high-resolution transistors.

A research team led by Professor Gregory Herman developed a transparent biological sensor that, when added to contact lenses, can be used to detect the symptoms of a range of health conditions. Currently, the prototype that has been tested in the laboratory can detect blood sugar levels only, but in the future, the team believes that it will be able to detect other medical conditions and possibly even cancer.

When he started the project, Professor Herman was looking for a better way to help people with diabetes. Today, diabetics who want to monitor blood sugar levels can do so by implanting subcutaneous electrodes. But the problem is that this solution may be painful and cause irritation of the skin and inflammation. For disposable lenses, they can be more practical and safer.

The IGZO team, a semiconductor material made up of zinc oxide and gallium, is the same material that revolutionized electronics, allowing the development of high-resolution screens for TVs, smartphones and tablets.

To develop a prototype for contact lenses, the researchers made transparent sheets of IGZO transistors and glucose oxidase, an enzyme that breaks down blood sugar. When contacts between glucose and contact lenses occur, a contact lens mechanism detects glucose levels in human blood. The enzyme oxidizes blood sugar, which changes the pH of the mixture, thus causing measurable changes in current intensity Electrostatic current through IGZO transistors.

Professor Herman estimates that more than 2,500 vital sensors can be implanted in just one square millimeter of adhesive IGZO lenses, each designed to measure different vital functions.

Vital sensors are still in development, so they have not yet been attached to contact lenses. Eventually, health data recorded by radio frequency will be transmitted to a receiver, and those radio frequency signals will transmit power to the device.

Professor Herman pointed out that the contact lenses they are developing are very similar to the contact lenses revealed by Google in 2014, but the professor believes his team is capable of developing completely transparent contact lenses.

Google’s lenses are different from those used in micro-chips instead of transparent IGZO transistors, as well as a glucose sensor placed between two layers of contact lens material.

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