Managing Diabetes


What is a GlucoWatch?

GlucowatchThis is a device for monitoring glucose levels which is worn on the wrist like a wrist watch. The device obtains automatic measurements of glucose concentrations non-invasively every 20 minutes for up to 12 hours at a time. Non-invasive means that the skin is not punctured to obtain a sample.

Is it completely painless?

The device is relatively painless but may sometimes cause some irritation of the skin.

Can it replace a regular blood glucose meter?

No. The measurements obtained by GlucoWatch are not a substitute for finger-prick bood glucose readings. The device is used to identify trends in glucose levels over a 12 hour period.

How does the GlucoWatch work?

The instrument draws interstitial fluid through sweat glands in the skin by means of a small electric current. Glucose concentrations are measured in this fluid. It does not measure blood glucose.

Who can use this device?

Adults with diabetes over the age of 18 years.

How will this information help?

Sometimes it is useful to identify patterns in glucose levels. To obtain this degree of information with a conventional meter would require several fingerprick measurements.  The monitor also has a built-in alarm which may be programmed to alert you at pre-set levels.

The GlucoWatch is very helpful at showing patterns and trends in your blood sugars, detecting after meal spiking, demonstrating low blood sugars aty night, and sorting out the causes for morning highs. Event markers can be recorded for activities like meals, insulin, and exercise.

How is the information stored?

Readings at 20 minute intervals over 12 hours are held in memory. Up to 4,000 values may be stored. These may be viewed at the touch of a button.

What problems may occur?

If sweating occurs, a "skipped reading" will be seen on the device, rather than a glucose reading. Loss of readings can also occur with rapid temperature changes, cold skin, bumping and excess movement. Some people experienced skin irritation.

Before you decide that a GlucoWatch is what you want…

  • The GlucoWatch is a prescription device and has to be prescribed by a Physician. Physicians prescribe it only after formal training on how to use it.
  • It does not replace conventional fingerprick measurements.
  • The device has to be calibrated before each measurment period and requires a 3 – hour warm up period. A standard blood sugar meter is used to calibrate the GlucoWatch.
  • Most users are expected to use the device intermittently rather than continuously. The user cannot shower, bathe, or swim (it is not waterproof).
  • GlucoWatch is much more costly than the traditional finger stick testing methods. The gel pads must be replaced afer each use.
  • Sweating may cause skipped readings. Very high pespiration can cause the device to stop completely.

Further information

Contact Technical Support on 0800 028 5256

Website  -

Manufacturer – Cygnus Inc, 400 Penobscot Drive, Redwood City, CA 94063


Dr Nishan Wijenaike
Consultant Physician
West Suffolk Diabetes Service
May 2003