It doesnt sound all that painful just a tiny prick of the finger for a drop of blood but when its done several times a day, day after day, year after year, those tiny pricks can add up to a great, big pain in more ways than one. Thats what most diabetics think, anyway, and researchers have been trying for years to come up with a completely painless blood sugar monitor to accommodate them.
Blood glucose levels in diabetics should be measured frequently four to eight times every single day for most diabetics. But studies have shown that many adults who suffer from Type 2 diabetes (the kind of diabetes that onsets in adulthood) test themselves only once or twice a day and sometimes only once or twice every three or four days.
Not keeping abreast of their diabetes does not bode well for people who have the disease. When diabetes is not controlled, serious health consequences can occur, such as heart disease, damage to kidneys and to the eyes, high blood pressure, and limb amputation.
Not only are these complications devastating to the patient and the patients families, they also translate into dramatically higher costs for insurance companies and those in the business of health care.
Conversely, diabetics that keep close track of their condition suffer less and that lessened misery trickles down to the practical side (think: money) of insurance companies and the health care business. The trick, however, is getting diabetics to conscientiously test themselves.
The Eyes: Windows to Sugar Levels
One company, Oculir, operating out of San Diego, California, is working on the development of a device for diabetics to measure blood glucose levels by using infrared light. The infrared light source, a point-and-click sensor, is pointed at the minute vessels found in the white areas of the eyeball.
Roughly the same size as the average cellular telephone, the company manufacturing the machine has hopes it will reach the market soon perhaps as quickly as 2009. The companys chief executive officer promises the device as a Ã¢â‚¬Å“painless andÃ¢â‚¬Â¦convenient alternativeÃ¢â‚¬Â to traditional prick-and-test glucose monitoring methods.
Another pioneering method of testing the levels of diabetics blood glucose is in the works from an electrical engineering and materials professor from Penn State. This device, a glucose biosensor, provides sugar level information when implanted beneath the skin no finger pricks needed.
The tiny biosensor, which looks a little like a tiny harp, measures only one centimeter by one-half centimeter square and has an approximate depth equal to that of a thin strand of hair.
Patients must continue to keep close tabs on their glucose levels and maintain accurate records for themselves and their doctors in order to increase, decrease, or keep the frequency of their insulin injections at a correct rate.
These are just a couple of the ways research and development in the diabetes medical industry is moving full speed ahead to address the issue of pain-free blood glucose monitoring. With nearly 21 million people in the Unites States alone suffering from diabetes, these devices are sure to be successful not only for diabetics, but also for those who invent, manufacture, and market them.