How many people in the United States have diabetes? The National Institutes of Health estimates 23.6 million Americans suffer from the disease. Approximately 24% of cases go undiagnosed, and 12.2 million cases are affected by individuals 60 years or older. 84% of diabetics use insulin or oral medicines to manage their blood sugar levels.

The expense of providing direct medical care to this group in 2007 was estimated at $116 billion when diabetes was the sixth most common cause of death. Diabetes-related technology companies must take great caution while designing, especially concerning user interface design. Consider how diabetes affects human beings’ ability to interact with technology and the design implications.


Many people with diabetes are symptom-free, mainly if they are young and maintain decent glycemic control through diet, exercise, and medicine. Despite this, diabetic patients will eventually suffer from the illness’s consequences.

Vision. People with diabetes frequently suffer from vision issues. Macular edema, neovascularization, and retinopathy are the most prevalent problems among people with diabetes (i.e., hyperglycemia). Vitreous hemorrhage can occur when the vitreous humor in the eye becomes thickened and opaque, causing vision problems. Vitrectomy removes blood vessels from inside the eye to prevent these potential complications.

Sense of Touch. Diabetes causes deterioration in touch sensitivity over time due to nerve damage. Peripheral neuropathy is one of a family of related nerve disorders. This illness can cause numbness, tingling, and discomfort in the toes, feet, legs, arms, hands, and fingers.

Mobility. Individuals with diabetes for a long time can develop tendon thickening due to hyperglycemia. High blood sugar, in particular, can induce tendon hyperplasia, leading to decreased agility and flexibility.

Cognition. People with diabetes are more likely to experience hypoglycemia and low blood sugar levels. As a person’s blood sugar level drops, they may have difficulties performing cognitive activities and become dazed.

Strength and Stability. Due to medical issues, people with diabetes may get weak, dizzy, shaky, and twitchy. These physical conditions might make it challenging to conduct a wide range of bodily interactions with medical equipment, such as lifting a moderately heavy device from a closet shelf to a counter, twisting and separating components, and making fine adjustments to control knobs.

Design Opportunities

The list of possible bodily and mental issues linked with diabetes is long. Still, device manufacturers may easily take modest steps to accommodate a large percentage of persons with the condition.

Make it easy for your users to understand the information. Human factors guidelines recommend that critical information, such as blood glucose readings and bolus dose quantities, be composed of characters subtending a visual angle of 20–22 minutes arc to ensure that people with normal vision can read them. The rule applies to the information shown on low- and high-resolution displays and printed material.

Character proportions, boldness, style, color, and spacing all impact readability. Line thickness should be approximately one-sixth of the character’s height. Simple or sans-serif typefaces with proportional spacing are better. Overall size, on the other hand, is most important if simple writing is used.

It’s possible to produce several devices, one with a big screen for large text. This is similar to how books are printed in conventional and huge types. Another option is to allow people to choose between normal, large, and huge characters, such as those who have difficulty reading small fonts. The latter technique might allow fewer pieces of information to be displayed on a screen simultaneously, necessitating additional user interface design and development.

Facilitate Handling. Increasing the size of push buttons, spacing them farther apart, and providing tactile feedback is common sense, as is making pushbuttons larger on wide control panels. Push buttons maybe 0.5 sq in. or round with their center points spaced 0.75 in. apart on big control displays.

Here are some more accommodation strategies:

  • Components should have simple, easy-to-identify forms. Use a mix of rectangular, circular, and triangular push buttons as an example.
  • Consider adding Braille, embossed icons, or other forms of tactile elements to product features that can make them more recognizable by touch than smooth, featureless surfaces.
  • When interacted with, the components should make distinct noises. The auditory feedback will compensate for any lack of tactile feedback.
  • Make a control position visible, using visual and tactile feedback to enhance the sense of touch.
  • If you’re designing a keyboard, ensure enough tactile response and that sensation is possible. One might, for example, improve the critical travel to at least 3 mm (0.125 in).
  • Reduce the amount of force required to operate controls and other moving elements.
  • For people with arthritis, larger finger and hand contact surfaces may help them to grasp things more easily or comfortably.

Mr. James Letko Edward has designed several medical devices to help those with diabetes. Each device is tailored to meet the specific needs of people with diabetes, addressing common deficits in care. In addition to designing devices that fill gaps in available treatments, Mr. Edward also looks for opportunities to improve patient care through design. Visit our website today!