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Tech Focus: Taiwan develops new diabetes sensor

Researchers from the National Taiwan University Hospital and National Chiao-Tung University have developed a new type of sensor that can detect diabetes-related complications in the nerves, allowing doctors to prevent such problems from worsening.


Nerve damage is a common complication in both types of diabetes, and acts progressively, meaning that the longer a person goes without a diagnosis, the more damage is likely to be caused. This damage can affect the heart and the digestive system, and eventually lead to serious health problems.


Taiwanese scientists now say they have developed what they call the “pupilometer”: a wearable device which hangs off a pair of glasses for about 30 minutes and can detect nerve damage in its early stages, before it has time to cause significant health problems. The main benefits, the researchers say, is that it’s cheaper, smaller and more effective than previous inventions – characteristics which should make it easier to distribute throughout the medical community.


The pupilometer monitors a patient’s pupils, as this is an effective way to determine nerve responsiveness. Once mounted onto a pair of glasses, the pupilometer shines different coloured lights into the patient’s eye and monitors the response time over the course of half an hour.


The scientists say they still have work to do – clinical trials are still underway and the team would like to reduce the size even further – but if these and future trials are successful, the pupilometer may be in use within the next decade.



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