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February 10th, 2010
Romantics may see the eye as a window into the soul, but doctors tend to view it as a window into the body. The condition of the eye can point not only to ocular diseases but also to more general health problems, such as hypertension. Glucose levels can also be monitored on the eye — in tears — and a Canadian researcher is working on contact lenses to do just that. She hopes her research will save people with diabetes from a lifetime of finger pricks.
"Diabetic patients have to prick their fingers several times a day, and it's quite uncomfortable," says Jin Zhang, assistant professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at the University of Western Ontario in London. "There is a need for a noninvasive measure to detect the level of glucose, instead of taking a blood sample."
Zhang's contact lenses contain nanoparticles that undergo a chemical reaction when exposed to a particular concentration of glucose. The reaction produces a subtle red colour on a lens. "It won't affect people's vision," Zhang says.
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