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Pharmaceutical giant Novartis International and technology giant Google have teamed up to create a smart contact lens capable of measuring diabetics' glucose levels and correcting farsightedness.

As part of the deal, Novartis is licensing technology behind Google's smart contact lens. Still in development, the smart lens was first announced in January. The new partnership is intended to speed up development and commercialization. Google will work with Alcon, Novartis' eye-care division.

Tiny sensors and microchips would be embedded in the lens. The device could provide diabetic users measurements of their glucose levels by gauging their tear fluid then transmitting the data wirelessly to a smartphone.

Jill Weisenberger, a certified diabetes educator, said the technology could benefit diabetics, who would no longer have to carry around a glucose meter, remember to measure their levels or prick their fingers for blood every time they do. According to the American Diabetes Association., more than 29 million Americans have diabetes.

"If it is accurate and affordable, it could be an absolute game changer," Weisenberger said.

The Google smart contact lens' sensors and microchips could also help those with presbyopia regain their eyes' ability to focus on things that are near them, Novartis said. The technology could also have applications beyond the medical field.


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Google has filed for a patent that describes tiny cameras capable of fitting within the contact lens. These cameras could provide users with extended eyesight or the ability to zoom in on faraway objects. The imagery could also be processed by the connected smartphone and relayed back to the user with additional data displayed through the contact lens.