Diabetes Detection: The Eyes Have It

Eyes have been called a window on the soul. To SpectRx Inc. in Norcross, Ga., they're a mirror for quickly and painlessly detecting diabetes and monitoring treatments for it--in place of the standard blood test that measures a patient's glucose level. In the U.S. alone, 13 million people have the disease, with half of those cases going undetected. Using a computerized measuring system, SpectRx focuses a low-level blue light on the lens of the eye to read a patient's average blood-glucose level in 30 seconds. Excess sugar affects the composition of the lens proteins, causing them to emit two to three times as much light as usual. The extra sugar exists because a diabetic doesn't produce enough insulin, a hormone that converts sugars and starches into energy.

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