Good news for diabetics: The painful finger prick tests used to measure blood sugar might become a distant memory. Now researchers say tears could provide that same information.
Published in the Journal of Analytical Chemistry, the researchers tested 12 rabbits and discovered the glucose level in tears correlated with the rabbits' blood sugar levels.
The University of Michigan research team is not alone. MSNBC reports Jeffrey LaBelle, a biomedical engineer at Arizona State University, has collaborated with the Mayo Clinic to develop tear glucose monitoring technology with a simple device. The aim is to produce a sensor you touch to the white of your eye. After five seconds, you then press into a device for a reading of your glucose levels.
Diabetes is a disease where people have too much sugar in their blood because of resistance to insulin or the inability to make insulin via the pancreas.
Some diabetics are required to take up to 10 finger prick tests per day to determine accurate blood sugar levels, so the new study provides hope for those looking for an alternative, accurate, bloodless and pain-free test.
If diabetics don't regularly monitor and control their blood sugar, complications from poor glycemic control may arise, notes Medical News Today. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower-limb amputations, and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States.
Scientists and engineers have long tried to find alternative solutions for diabetics.
"People have been trying to read glucose through skin, through measurements attached on the earlobe. There have been machines on the market that got taken off the market because of unreliability and poor reproducibility," said Dr. George Grunberger, who serves on the board of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, in an interview with Fox News.
According to the American Diabetes Association, some 25.8 million children and adults in the United States -- 8.3 percent of the population -- have diabetes. And with 79 million people pre-diabetic, there could be even more of a demand for other ways of measuring glucose levels.