"The critical next observations are to better understand the dynamics of [glucose] in tears and blood glucose," says Finegold. "If we can figure out this relationship clearly, then we could use [the gel sensor] as effectively as the methods that draw plasma for glucose testing."
An in addition to ironing out scientific issues, creating the lens has been a matter of tedious handiwork for Ascher and his researchers. "Right now, we have to cut a piece of the gel out and glue it in to an existing contact lens," says Ascher. "We're hoping to find an easier way to do this."
Ascher notes that the team is taking steps to further the research this year. The university has already patented Ascher's work and is seeking investors to form a local startup company for further research and development work.
But Ascher is quick to admit that it will be several years before diabetics will be able to buy a glucose-monitoring contact lens.
"A commercial product has to get through federal Food and Drug Administration testing, and that's at least two or three years away," says Ascher.