The 79th American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions in San Francisco recently wrapped up. In addition to the research presented in posters and breakout sessions, there were over 130 exhibitors marketing equipment, services, publications, programs and medicines. The Exhibition Hall featured a mix of larger booths for medications, blood glucose meters, insulin pumps and other tools, along with smaller displays for a variety of interesting products and programs, nine of which are described here.
Diabetes products and services: Nine top picks
1. Remidio smartphone retinal imaging
Is it hard to remember your annual eye screen appointment? No problem. With this new technology, you’ll no longer need to go to an ophthalmologist for a dilated eye exam. An Indian company called Remidio makes equipment that hooks to a smartphone to take pictures of the retina and evaluate the images with artificial intelligence. According to the manufacturer, the machine’s results were very similar to evaluations by ophthalmologists in studies.
You wouldn’t want to buy the machine for yourself, but optometrists and general practitioners can buy it to do an eye screen and get results in a couple minutes.
2. Eyenuk EyeArt
A British company called Eyenuk makes eye exams even easier. There’s no machine. With their EyeArt software, any decent camera, such as those in a mobile device, can take a color photo of the retinas and send them to a computer for evaluation. (If the computer recommends a doctor’s follow-up, a patient or doctor still has to call for that.)
3. InPen smart insulin pen
Many diabetes devices have smart versions now. An insulin pen call InPen can talk to your blood glucose meter via a Bluetooth connection on your smartphone and tell you how much insulin to give. For a bolus injection, you have to input how many grams of carbs you’re going to eat. The pen is available at pharmacies for less than $100 and the free app is available in the App Store and the Google Play store.
4. FreeStyle Libre CGM
The FreeStyle Libre Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) system is approved for making treatment decisions, meaning that no fingersticks are required. The sensor inserts with just a few easy steps and can be used to continuously monitor glucose levels for up to 14 days before a new sensor is needed. The sensor communicates with a handheld reader that displays and stores glucose readings.
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5. Omnipod insulin pump
Omnipod is a waterproof, self-contained insulin pump system with no tubes. The “Pod,” which attaches to the user, contains the insulin. Once applied, the cannula can be inserted with just the push of a button. The Pod communicates with a Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM) that includes an integrated FreeStyle blood glucose meter.
6. Unifine Pentips pen needles
Insulin pen needles can be removed and replaced with a single twist using Unifine Pentips Pen Needles, from the British company Owen Mumford. The pen needles cost about 20 cents each if bought in boxes of 100 by mail, or 14 cents each at Costco.
7. DayTwo Personalized Nutrition Kit
Microbiomes (the body’s collection of microbes) are a hot topic now, and you can test your own with the DayTwo Personalized Nutrition Kit, which analyzes your microbiome. You send a stool specimen to DayTwo, and, according to the company, they can give you a personalized glycemic index, telling you how much different foods will raise your blood sugar.
The manufacturer told me that people may find they actually can eat some things they thought were bad for them, and vice versa. Everyone is different, and the difference, they say, is mostly in the microbiome.
It takes 6–8 weeks after mailing your kit to get their recommendations. After that, you can get a reading on any proposed meal by typing it into the app. The test and the app cost $349 (probably not covered by insurance).
I haven’t seen a lot of scientific evidence that microbiome diets work, but there is some, such as this Israeli study that found large differences in glucose response that correlated with the subjects’ gut bacteria.
8. Volunteer opportunity
Not a product, exactly, but something worth knowing about: The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is recruiting diabetes advocates to fight against discrimination and for better treatments for people with diabetes. Their advocacy program has been partly responsible for the recent lowering of certain insulin prices. The ADA has several campaigns going, and you can get involved or suggest a new one on their website.
9. Low-vision books from the Library of Congress
Free low-vision books — either audio books or braille books — are available from the Library of Congress. Find out more on their website. You can also volunteer with them to do braille transcribing or record talking books. Call (888) NLS-READ (888-657-7323) to learn more.