Smart contact lens project designed to help diabetics is put on hold

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A company from Google’s parent firm Alphabet is putting a glucose-sensing smart contact lens project on hold because results weren’t accurate enough.

Verily began working with pharmaceutical firm Novartis and its Alcon eye division in 2014 to develop the contact lenses, as well other types of smart lenses – including a pair that measured glucose levels in tears – to help those with diabetes manage the disease.

However, the firm has now said the level of glucose it was detecting in tears did not compare closely enough to the levels found in blood during testing.

“Our clinical work on the glucose-sensing lens demonstrated that there was insufficient consistency in our measurements of the correlation between tear glucose and blood glucose concentrations to support the requirements of a medical device,” the company said in a blog post.

“We are at a point where we have decided, together with Alcon, to put the glucose-sensing lens work on hold, while continuing to focus on the smart accommodating contact lens and smart intraocular lens projects.”

(Verily)
Contact lenses (Verily/PA)

The latter of the two other contact lens devices being developed is being designed to help improve the sight of those who have just undergone cataract surgery.

Verily added that it would continue to research glucose-sensing technology that was “inexpensive and unobtrusive”.

The company began life as part of Google’s X lab of futuristic research projects, before becoming an independent firm within Alphabet as part of its “graduation” from Google’s internal labs.

Chris Price