A Blood Glucose Meter for the Visually Impaired

by Ann Bartlett Patient Expert

For people living with diabetes, complications are a factor to be considered in doing everyday tasks. For someone with diabetic retinopathy, a simple task like reading your blood sugar could be frustrating, thus leading to bigger problem of skipping testing. The need to care for your blood sugar level is the most important factor in managing diabetes. This is a struggle for approximately 15% of people living with diabetes have visual issues preventing them from using many brands of blood glucose meters.

Prodigy is very different from most other brands for one big reason - they make 2 meters designed for low vision and blind patients. Kudos to Prodigy for remembering that each person with diabetes has different needs. The two low vision meters are called the Prodigy Voice and Prodigy Talking meters. The Talking meter is also bilingual speaking in both English and Spanish - which is even better than I can do

Prodigy makes three meters in total, Prodigy Voice, Prodigy AutoCode Talking and Prodigy Pocket.

Some basic features of all Prodigy kits:

  • Meter* Battery* Carrying case* Control solution* Starter bottle of 10 test strips* Lancets 10* Lancing device* Instruction manual* Log book* Quick reference* Warranty carrodigy Pocket is similar to Wavesense Presto and the One Touch Mini. One of the nicest features on all 3 meters is the lancing device and blood sample needed for the strips! Of all the meters I recently tried, it's by far the smallest sample requirement. For people with little fingers and sensitive fingers, all Prodigy meters are for you!

The pocket meter is very reasonable: $19.99 at Over the Counter Wholesale. However, they DON'T list the pocket test strips for sale, which was what I got from the company when they shipped me these for review. According to Prodigy customer service, they said any of AutoCode strips will work in the pocket meter and the above link carries those.

Prodigy AutoCode Talking Meter -The Autocode Talking Meter is designed with low vision and dyslexic patients in mind. The numbers are big and bold and the voice is very clear and speaks both English and Spanish. The test strips, which are the real cost to using a meter, were very reasonable. The AutoCode meter was $29.99 and a box of 50 count were $17.99 from American Diabetes Wholesale.

Prodigy Voice is specific to blind patients. The box comes with brail stickers and the meter is bigger that most. It reads everything to you: date, time, prompts you to apply the blood sample, and it reads the blood glucose number. Finally, when you pull the strip out of the meter, it signs off with "goodbye," in a very pleasant female voice. I need to remember to mimic that voice in a moment of feeling rushed! Most voice meters are expensive, but they are covered by insurance. A voice meter runs $82.79, but the strips are very reasonable! A bottle of 50 was $23.79.

I played with all three meters for the past month. Sadly, my Spanish has not improved, but my husband loves to repeat my blood sugar, which left me feeling annoyed, and my dog still cocks his head from curiosity when he hears the coffee table bark out my blood sugar! Without any doubt, Prodigy Voice and Prodigy Talk are the most clear and audible. If that's not enough, the numbers are large and unmistakable! I'll admit, I'm not the brightest crayon in the morning, so that's definitely a help. When I wake up, the first thing I do before coffee is a blood glucose check. If anyone is like me, I often can't remember the number I just read. For some 3 million people with diabetes, there is the additional factor of dyslexia. A voice-activated meter gives both a visual and audio sample to help prevent recording the wrong number.

My only serious issue with this meter is the struggle to actually find it at a convenient location. I traveled to Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid and inquired about Prodigy meters. In every case, I was educating the staff! (FYI, it takes about 24 hours for a local chain pharmacy to order and have it at the store.) An even greater frustration is that the best little pocket meter is almost unheard of and difficult to find help with on the net for supplies! Target said they never heard of Prodigy meters. After they searched their shelves, I was told to try Target.com; however, it is not listed on the site. If I get updated info on how to purchase this pocket sized wonder, I will add the information at the bottom of this post!

These meters are genuinely easy to use, easy on our fingers that get pricked multiple times a day, and offer a reliable source of vital information. I was very fortunate to be able to review these meters and strips, and I was pleasantly surprised. You can tell that the maker of this product also lives with diabetes, too!

Ann Bartlett
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Ann Bartlett

Ann wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Diabetes.