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New ways of monitoring glucose range from lasers to tears


THE STAR – Ah, the wonders of new technology!

You do not even have to prick your finger to test your blood with these continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) methods.

CGM works through a tiny sensor inserted painlessly under your skin, usually on your belly or arm.

The newer ones don’t even have to penetrate your skin. Some of them are metal patches that can monitor your glucose levels just by being taped and strapped to your skin.

The sensor measures your interstitial glucose level, which is the glucose found in the fluid between your cells.

The sensor tests the glucose every few minutes.

A transmitter then wirelessly sends the information to a monitor or an app installed in your smartphone.

Poking your finger every day may soon become a thing of the past for diabetics as there are a number of devices that can monitor your blood glucose levels continuously with just one prick, or even none at all. PHOTO: THE STAR

The information is uploaded to a data “cloud”, where it can be accessed and monitored in real time by your doctor.

Glucose monitoring is indeed very advanced these days.

There is one shoebox-sized blood glucose monitor that beams an infrared laser through the skin of your finger.

This causes the glucose in your skin to convert the light to heat.

The machine then calculates your glucose levels based on how much heat is generated by your skin.

Don’t worry, you won’t even feel this laser’s heat, or the increase in your skin temperature, as it is so minute. Then there is a subcutaneous implant that continuously monitors your blood glucose levels.

It needs to be installed under the skin by a doctor.

This is one of those devices that monitor the interstitial fluid under the skin of your upper arm.

It does so by using a polymer that fluoresces in response to your blood glucose level. The data is sent to a transmitter that displays those levels in real time. The sensor can last for up to three months before needing a replacement. There are some devices in development that measure the sugar in your tears – yes, you read that right, the tears from your eyes! One startup working on a blood sugar monitor that is placed under your lower eyelid.

It consists of a flexible metal coil of about two centimetres with nanosensors inside. The coil is covered by a protective layer of soft hydrogel.

This coil can measure minute- to-minute changes in the glucose levels of your tear fluid by using the same enzyme technology that conventional glucose strip tests use. It will then wirelessly send the glucose measurements directly to your smartphone.

Another device works on the scientific basis that the eyeball is a transparent and stable environment whose glucose levels correlate with those of the blood.

It sends a faint beam of light into your eyeball and measures the light that bounces back into the device.

The glucose levels in the eye are inferred based on the refraction of the returning light.