Feature Archive

Glucose Meters: What's on the Horizon?

Contact lenses, tattoos, infrared light, and smart sensors will detect your glucose level in the "ouchless" future.

By Jeanie Lerche Davis
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson

If you've got diabetes, regular blood glucose (sugar) testing is a fact of life. And getting your all-important glucose level has become easier. Today's glucose meters are more sensitive, and require less blood -- which likely equates with less pain. That advance has been a big one for people with diabetes. But will the "ouch" ever go away?

Researchers are hard at work -- developing special contact lenses, fluorescent "tattoos," infrared devices, and smart sensors to decipher your glucose levels -- with them being "ouchless" as their goal. In some cases, no blood testing is required -- maybe one prick at the most.

Guenther Boden, MD, chief of endocrinology at Temple University School of Medicine, has monitored developments in this field over the last few decades.

"The GlucoWatch Biographer seemed like the answer," Boden tells WebMD. "The underside of the watch has a membrane that can suck interstitial fluid through the skin; get 'juice' out of skin, so to speak. And that's what you need to measure glucose; you need to get some body fluid. The technology seems to work. But skin irritation has been a problem for some people."