Color Changing Contact Lenses Monitor Blood Sugar in Diabetics

Diabetics may soon be able to wear contact lenses that continuously alert them to variations in their glucose levels by changing colours - replacing the need to routinely draw blood throughout the day.

The non-invasive technology, developed by Chemical and Biochemical Engineering professor Jin Zhang at The University of Western Ontario, uses extremely small nanoparticles embedded into the hydrogel lenses. These engineered nanoparticles react with glucose molecules found in tears, causing a chemical reaction that changes their colour.

Zhang received $216,342 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) this morning to further develop technologies using multifunctional nanocomposites.

These technologies have vast potential applications beyond biomedical devices, including for food packaging. For example, nanocomposite films can prevent food spoilage by preventing oxygen, carbon dioxide and moisture from reaching fresh meats and other foods, or by measuring pathogenic contamination; others can make packaging increasingly biodegradable.

Overall, Western was awarded $2,659,595 for 12 projects from the CFI's Leaders Opportunity Fund today.

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