Diabetes monitoring device measures glucose in tear fluid

People with diabetes could be helped by a new type of self-monitoring blood glucose sensor being developed by Arizona State University (ASU) engineers and clinicians at the Mayo Clinic.

Current diabetes monitoring devices typically require patients to perform the painful task of pricking their finger to draw blood for a test sample — and many patients must do this several times each day.

However, the new device under development at ASU would enable people to draw tear fluid from their eyes to get a glucose-level test sample. According to the researchers developing the device, glucose in tear fluid may give an indication of glucose levels in the blood just as accurately as a test using a blood sample.

’This new technology might encourage patients to check their blood sugars more often, which could lead to better control of their diabetes by a simple touch to the eye,’ said Jeffrey LaBelle, a research professor in ASU’s School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering.

He is leading the ASU-Mayo research team that is developing the device along with Mayo Clinic physicians Curtiss Cook, an endocrinologist, and Dharmendra Patel, the chair of Mayo’s Department of Surgical Ophthalmology.

With funding provided by BioAccel, an Arizona-based non-profit organisation, the research team plans to conduct experiments to determine how well the new device performs compared with current blood-sampling techniques.

The researchers hope that the results will help them to secure further funding for more development work from sources such as the US National Institutes of Health and the Small Business Incentive Research Program.