Could wearing goggles help you sleep and lose weight? The smart glasses that treat conditions from vertigo to diabetes

Specs are no longer just for seeing with — there are now a range of high-tech smart ‘goggles’ to treat a host of conditions, from diabetes to vertigo. 

There are even goggles to help you lose weight.

FOR DIABETES AND INSOMNIA

Goggles that shine bright light into the eyes are being tested as a treatment to prevent type 2 diabetes. They are based on the idea that the body clock, which controls the release of hormones, is regulated by light.

Light-detecting cells in the eyes, known as photoreceptors, send signals to the body clock in the brain, which then sets our sleep and wake rhythms.

Recent research by Northwestern University Hospital in the U.S. showed that our body clocks also dictate when the pancreas produces insulin in order to control blood sugar, with our sensitivity to insulin reducing during the night, according to another study published in the journal Diabetes last year.

Re-Timer: Goggles that shine bright light into the eyes are being tested as a treatment to prevent type 2 diabetes.

These circadian rhythms, as they’re known, can be impaired by staying indoors, working irregular hours, or a lack of sunlight in winter.

The goggles, called Re-Timer, have four tiny light-emitting diodes (LEDs) built into the top of the frame — they look like a pair of white specs without lenses. The lights are switched on to expose the eyes to bright light in the morning to increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar.

The goggles are being trialled at Northwestern University with 34 patients with pre-diabetes. They will wear them for an hour each morning for four weeks and their glucose levels will be measured.

The glasses were first developed to treat insomnia and jet lag. For sleep problems, they use green light which stimulates the part of the brain responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle.

FOR VERTIGO

Israel-based Spoton Therapeutics’ goggles look like ordinary specs, but the lenses have ‘marks’ — tiny rectangles — on them to help patients with dizziness.

The marks are placed so they are in the patient’s peripheral vision. These reference points are thought to help steady the user.