Monday, November 14, 2011

Diabetes breakthrough could save sufferers from drawing blood by testing tears instead

By Claire Bates

Last updated at 12:21 PM on 11th November 2011
Diabetics may be saved from having to draw blood several times a day to test their sugar levels after scientists found a way to use tears instead.
Diabetics have to test their blood sugar levels from two to 10 times a day by drawing a droplet of blood with a finger-prick test.
However, some people don't measure their levels often enough because of the discomfort it causes.

Tear drops not blood drops: Glucose can be measured from watery eyes
Tear testing: Diabetics nay be able to measure their blood sugar levels from tears instead of having to use a finger-prick blood test

Now researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a sensor that can detect blood glucose levels in tears.
The study, which used rabbits as human substitutes, found glucose levels in tears correlated to glucose levels in the blood.

The researchers said in the journal Analytical Chemistry: 'Thus it may be possible to measure tear glucose levels multiple times per day to monitor blood glucose changes without the potential pain from the repeated invasive blood drawing method.'

Some type 1 diabetics must check their blood sugar levels 10 times a day
Some type 1 diabetics must check their blood sugar levels 10 times a day

Doctors say there is a great demand for an alternative to using lancets, or pricking needles, to draw blood. 

Fingers can become sensitive over time and there is always a small risk of infection.
Frequent tests are essential for people with type 1 diabetes, who can't produce the hormone insulin,  needed to control blood sugar levels.

Skin prick tests are the only way to safely monitor glucose levels and will let patients know if they need an insulin injection.
If blood sugar levels fall too low, type one diabetics can develop hypoglycaemia, which can lead to coma and death if left untreated.

People with type 2 diabetes don't produce enough insulin to control blood sugar levels.  Although it can be treated with a healthier diet and exercise it is a progressive condition and medication may be needed when the condition is more advanced.

Those with type 2 diabetes may only need to test themselves twice a week if they manage to get their sugar levels under control.

Diabetes affects 2.8 million people in the UK and 26 million people in the U.S. The majority of sufferers have type 2 of the condition.

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