You Try It (testing in the dark)

You need to test your blood sugar.

It’s the middle of the night.

This is what you see.


You have your testing kit. But now what?

You need to get a test strip. Not too hard.

You need to insert the correct end into the meter with the right side up. What’s that? You can’t see? How can you tell if the strip is in right?


Poke your finger and squeeze out a drop of blood. Did your poke work? Do you have enough blood? Do you have TOO MUCH blood? Your not bleeding all over your bedding, are you?


Now apply the blood sample to the correct spot on the strip. What? You can’t see? How will you know if you’re getting the strip anywhere near the drop of blood?


Device manufacturers, I ask you to imagine interacting with your diabetes devices in many different scenarios. Imagine needing to test your blood sugar at 3:00 AM. If you are a parent, imagine needing to test your child’s blood sugar at 3:00 AM. You expect US to be able to pull this off.

Turning on a light is not always feasible.

And what about those who are visually impaired? Aren’t they “testing in the dark” all of the time?

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20 thoughts on “You Try It (testing in the dark)

  1. Scott,

    Here is another issue to add to your collection….. What if the person with Diabetes has a level of blindness. Everyday stuggles are difficult with proper lighting. Imagine how difficult it can be for them.

    Here are some suggestions:

    A brail point on one end of a strip
    Electronic annoucement, “Your reading is 89”
    A tone if the sufficent blood has been applied and reading is in process.

    If electronic software designer can design a game that throws a bunch of birds across the screen and knocks down a bunch of bricks and walls. Imagine what they could do with a glucose meter.

  2. I use my Dexcom as a flashlight while I fumble around in the dark. I have also used my iPad to light up my finger. You are right Scott. Someone needs to design a meter with a night setting. A gentle light around the strip. Maybe a light up lancing device. Not blinding like turning on the bathroom light, but a soft glow like a nightlight. First manufacturer to create one wins my business.

  3. So flipping true. Maybe they think PWD’s have nightvision or something? That would be a sweet “complication.”

    Thank you for (wait for it) bringing this need to light. 😉

  4. The Verio IQ light is really nice, but at night the screen is blinding. So I put my hand over the screen so I can take advantage of the light at the front. I so wish they’d put a light sensor in there.

    After years of testing without a light, I don’t know if I can go back to darkness again. Thanks for the great post Scott.

  5. Not to hijack this blog topic, but I happened upon your A1c page and noticed your latest A1c was below 7! Just wanted to congratulate you on such a huge accomplishment. =)

  6. To Tim Brand-

    I confused by what you mean about no backlight on the Revel. If you are on the home screen, you just push the Down Arrow to turn on the light. If you’re on another screen, you press the Down Arrow and the B button simultaneously to turn on the light. You also push the Down Arrow and B button simultaneously to turn off the light.

    Now if you’re talking about the MiniLink meter, you’re right about no light.

    A related frustration about lights is the inability to turn off the light on the Dexcom 7+. Once I’ve looked at the number, it would be great to turn off the light. In the middle of the night I feel like I have those spotlights at the car dealer lighting up my bedroom. Or if I’m out and about, I have a lit-up pocket unless I have the screen faced inward.

  7. Scott, you made me laugh with the finger poking, putting strip in, etc. With my One Touch Ultra, I have to get the strip in properly to turn the meter on and then I can activate the back light, which gives me enough light to see to poke and apply blood. Definitely handy in movie theaters and tents!

  8. Scott, you are absolutely right on with this post. I’ve actually used the light from my pump to light up everything in the dark a couple of times. But I keep a flashlight next to the bed anyway, for this reason (and because we lose power a lot). Thanks for the message.

  9. Try checking a little kid in the middle of the night and no back light on the MiniMed Revel to update the cgm. I’m half awake and wonder if I bolused my daughter. They try to pull their hands away too, lol. I tried using display light on my phone but it would go out when I needed it. I think I may get one of those worklites that straps to ones head. I would like to give someone from Medtronic an ear full, maybe ill call them at 3am. Maybe Medtronic should have worked on a back light and light on meter rather than the MySentry (I like our Mysentry but just saying), or instead of filling law suits they could work on that problem. I do love the Revel, but a few things really get me steamed. Thanks for the post.

  10. We just got notice that our insurance isnt gonna cover our Freestyle Lite test strips anymore…and I think THIS POST is gonna make me fight it! Ive taken for granted that little light that keeps us safe….thanks for this post! Time to fight!

    • I did the same thing; I was not willing to give up a light on my meter so my endo fought it and won. I keep using freestyle. Just tried the Contour Next last night and agree that the light isn’t bright enough to see the end of the strip. Usually I use the dexcom as a flashlight. The earlier Freestyle was better with lighting; the FS lite is not as good but adequate.

  11. Yeah, I’ve tried that. Eventually, I end up using the backlight on my pump (or the lamp on the nightstand).

    Even the port-light on the Contour NextLink isn’t all that wonderful. The button to turn it on is awkwardly placed behind the strap on the meter case, and the light is sufficient to guide the strip into the port, but it doesn’t illuminate the far end of the strip where the blood goes. That part I end up doing in the dark. Sigh.

  12. Scott… this is a hilarious and yet very irritating post about what it’s truly like.


    I had a little tiny LED light I stuck to my meter but in reality, that’s not good enough. I’ve ALWAYS complained about it. How damn hard is it to put at least a backlight on the screen?! Timex Indiglo came out back in the dark ages.

  13. You can make my One Touch light up but I wasn’t sure how to do it until I played with it right now. That said, I’ll always turn on the light. Not sure I could find my fingers in the dark.

  14. Thanks Scott for calling the meter companies out, every meter SHOULD have ALWAYS had a light…. Meters have been around for too many years for them to thought to include this HUGE missing component!
    No excuse is acceptable !!

    … diabetics have also always gone to movie theaters!

  15. I keep a flashlight on my nightstand for this very reason. It helps but not always so easy to maneuver when you’re half asleep, especially if low. I do love the Verio meter for its light. It helps significantly in testing in low light situations. This is something the makers truly need to take into consideration. Great post!

  16. Scott-

    I am with you 100% on this issue. It’s a pain in the butt testing w/o a light port or buttons w/ backlights. If computer manufactures and other diabetes device companies can do it-everyone else should and need to follow! Testing in the dark is hard to do especially when your bg is below 60! Sometimes I wonder how pump and device manufactures do their market research prior to putting a meter or pump on the market? *rant over*

  17. I love this! I tested at 3 am and went through 3 test strips and 3 er4 codes. I also woke up with dried blood on my face. This is not an unusual event for me. I wish this was a standard feature on all meters. The Contour USB light isn’t useful and the Verio is just blinding….also the Verio strips are hard to use at the best of times. Basically i Iwhs someone would go back in time and improve my Ping meter or my iBGStar

  18. This is one reason I love my Freestyle Lite (and its predecessor, the Freestyle Flash): they have both back lights (to see the numbers) and port lights (to see where to put the blood). The Bayer Contour USB and, IIRC, the One Touch Verio also have both back lights and port lights.