Wouldn't it be nice to toss the testing strips and stop pricking your finger? Help is on the way in the form of several new technologies being put through the necessary trials for Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval. While the FDA presently does not recommend abandoning the traditional methods for testing blood glucose all together, they have approved some interesting new technologies for monitoring and testing blood sugar. So don't throw out those test strips and old glucose meters just yet, although that reality may be on the horizon before you know it. 

Soon, you might be able to see your glucose levels by looking at your wristwatch, glancing in the mirror, running an LED over a "tattoo", or shining an infrared light onto your skin. Here is a rundown of these new technologies:

  • Wristwatch. Already available, the wristwatch utilizes a membrane on the underside of the watch that sucks interstitial fluid for testing. The watch requires a warm-up period of roughly three hours, and can afterwards provide up to three measurements per hour for a 12-hour period. The FDA recommends that this be used to show trends or patterns in glucose levels and recognizes it as a means to detect and evaluate episodes of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. A prescription is necessary to purchase the watch and again, the FDA suggests a standard glucose measurement before corrective action is taken based on the watch's reading. 

  • Contact lens. Still in development, the contact lens allows the user to determine blood glucose levels by an indicator on the lens that can be seen in the mirror. Testing had to wrangle with glucose levels in tears which can be elevated if the tears are produced during an emotional episode that causes a person to cry.

  • Tatoo. In actuality, it's an ultra-thin sheath placed under the skin that, when irradiated by an LED, glows a particular color, indicating the blood glucose level. The infrared light device employs a similar idea. An infrared light shines on the person's skin and reports the unabsorbed light back to a monitoring device, indicating blood glucose levels. 

Other advances in glucose meters have to do with the size of the meter itself or the technology "on board". One such glucose meter is the size of a small stack of quarters. Another high-tech advance comes in the form of a wireless blood glucose monitor providing real-time blood sugar data that can be transmitted to the healthcare team, better helping physicians assess and manage a patient's diabetes. Other products may provide one-stop shopping so to speak, with an all-in-one meter, logbook, and insulin pump. 

Medical device and healthcare companies are working hard to make blood glucose testing easier and less invasive. So stay tuned, and in the meantime, continue to be diligent about monitoring yourself in order to avoid any complications.