New test makes diabetes test quick, painless

Reporter: Ann Komis
New Media Producer: Melissa Greathouse

Twenty million Americans are diabetics but don't even know it, and won't until they get severe complications like blindness or kidney disease.

Shirley Loo has two siblings with diabetes, so she thinks before she eats. "You can lose a limb. You can die of diabetes. You can go blind with it."

She avoids sweets, reads labels, and is taking part in a study looking at a new painless, bloodless diabetes test.

"I want to keep enjoying life, and just have a great life, and you need well being for that," she said.

One machine could replace the traditional diabetes testing method of fasting, drinking a sweet glucose solution, and taking a blood test.

The Vera-light Scout System has patients in and out in a flash. It uses fluorescent light to non-invasively measure the effects of high glucose levels in the forearm's connective tissue.

"We've been able to identify those biochemical changes that may reflect diabetes without the need of sticking the patient or drawing blood or sending samples off to a certified laboratory," said Robert Ratner, M.D., of MedStar Research.

The machine shines a light onto the skin's surface and the layers of tissue immediately below, and measures how much light bounces back in very specific wavelengths.

"We then compare the Scout measure and the overnight fasting with glucose, and found that the scout measure is as accurate, if not better," Ratner said.

Some doctors believe the test will be the future of diabetes detection.

Shirley hopes the pain free device will get others to get tested sooner. "I wanted it to help."

The Scout is only for initial diabetes detection, not daily blood glucose testing.

Traditional diabetes detection can take about two hours, but the Scout system only takes about three minutes to produce a result.

Scout measurements can be made any time of the day, because fasting is not required.