New wearable technology could spot diabetic neurological condition sooner

A lightweight pair of eyeglasses that can monitor a patient's pupils might help physicians detect diabetic autonomic neuropathy sooner - a condition that is common among people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Left untreated, this type of neuropathy can cause nerve damage and organ dysfunction, leading to problems like fainting, nausea, incontinence and increased risk for bacterial infection.

The technology, which was discussed in the The Optical Society's journal Applied Optics, can be worn for about 30 minutes during a doctor visit. The glasses measure five parameters of the pupils, which then allow doctors to spot early signs of diabetic autonomic neuropathy.

"Compared to the existing diagnostic techniques, the pupillometer is a more reliable, effective, portable and inexpensive solution for diagnosing diabetic autonomic neuropathy in its early stages," said Mang Ou-Yang, lead researcher from National Chiao-Tung University.

Current tests lacking

According to a press release on the research, doctors currently rely on observations of heart rate, digestive function and blood pressure to detect signs of diabetic autonomic neuropathy. The problem, however, is that these types of tests prevent them from making an early diagnosis. Pupil monitoring, however, could be a better option to spot the condition sooner, Ou-Yang said.

The technology works by emitting four colored lights that stimulate the pupil. A device then filters the light that is reflected in the eye back to a camera that analyzes the pupil's size and health.

And while the device is still in clinical trials, if proven successful, it could be available within the next 10 years, Ou-Yang said.

Source: The Optical Society

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