Diabetes is a disease that prevents the body from regulating blood sugar. Many diabetics must take blood samples to check their glucose levels, and adjust their insulin doses accordingly. Finger sticks for blood testing can be inconvenient at best, as well as painful and awkward in many settings. Finger sticks only provide a snapshot at that moment; it is more helpful to constantly monitor blood sugar levels to keep them within the desired target range.

Some diabetic patients now use continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) that measure blood sugar levels throughout the day and night. Most work by inserting a tiny needle into the patient’s skin, but these typically have to be replaced every week. It can be expensive and painful to replace the sensor. Patients have a new option to consider. The Eversense CGM from Senseonics relies on a tiny sensor that is implanted just below the patient’s skin where it can provide continuous readings for up to 90 days. An external transmitter is adhered to the skin above the sensor, and uses light to read the blood sugar levels. (See the video above for more details on how this works.) It stores this information and transmits the data to a smartphone every five minutes. From there it can be sent to the cloud to be shared with caregivers and healthcare professionals. The smartphone app can issue alerts if the levels are out of the target range, and the transmitter itself can vibrate to alert the patient. The transmitter can be removed for recharging or other reasons, without the need to replace an expensive sensor.

This system received FDA approval this summer for use by diabetic patients 18 years old or older. This technology can make blood glucose monitoring much easier and accurate for patients. In time, we hope that it will be cleared for use with an insulin pump to provide a closed-loop system to help manage a patient’s glucose levels automatically.