A brief history of eyewear
From the ancient Egyptians using polished quartz to modern-day designer frames, eyewear has come a long way. But when were glasses invented? Join us as we take a journey through time to uncover the history of eyewear and how it has evolved to become the essential accessory it is today. From the earliest known depictions of eyeglasses to the latest technological advancements, this article will give you a glimpse into the fascinating history of glasses and the people who have shaped them.
History of Glasses
The history of visual aid devices can be traced back to ancient times, with scattered evidence of their use in Greek and Roman societies. One notable example is the use of an emerald by Emperor Nero, as recorded by Pliny, the Elder.
The concept of using a convex lens to create a magnified image was likely first described by Ptolemy in his work Optics and was later refined by scholars such as Ibn Sahl and Alhazen. These ideas eventually made their way to Europe in the 12th century, leading to the development of “reading stones.”
Additionally, in China during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), there are claims that single-lens magnifying glasses were being used. Robert Grosseteste and Roger Bacon also wrote about the magnifying properties of lenses in the 13th century. However, the invention of eyeglasses as we know them today took place in Northern Italy in the latter half of the 13th century.
In fact, it was during the 13th century when an Italian friar named Salvino D’Armate was credited with inventing the first pair of glasses frames. These early glasses were made with a simple convex lens, which magnified the text in books and manuscripts.
In the centuries that followed, eyeglasses underwent several transformations. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century led to a rise in the number of people who needed glasses to read. This, in turn, led to the development of various types of lenses, including concave lenses, which corrected nearsightedness, and convex lenses, which corrected farsightedness.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, eyeglasses became a fashion statement. They were often worn as a symbol of status and wealth and were adorned with gold and precious stones. However, it was not until the 19th century that eyeglasses truly became accessible to the masses. The invention of the lens-grinding machine and the use of more inexpensive materials like glass and plastic made it possible for more people to afford a pair of glasses.
Today, prescription glasses are a common sight and are used by people of all ages and backgrounds. Advances in technology have led to the development of new lens materials, such as polycarbonate and high-index plastic, which are lightweight and durable. Additionally, the advent of contact lenses and laser eye surgery has given people more options when it comes to correcting their vision.
Who Invented Eyeglasses?
The invention of eyeglasses is a fascinating story that spans centuries and continents. It all began in the 13th century when a few pioneering individuals in Italy started to experiment with lenses to improve vision. One of these early innovators was Roger Bacon, who, in 1268, made the first recorded comment on the use of lenses for optical purposes.
Fast forward to the late 13th century, and we find the first eyeglasses being made in central Italy, most likely in Pisa. In a 1306 sermon, the Dominican friar Giordano da Pisa excitedly declared that this new invention, which “makes for good vision,” had only been around for 20 years. His colleague, Friar Alessandro della Spina, also got in on the action, sharing his eyeglasses with everyone he met.
The production of vintage frames soon spread to Venice, which became a hub for the manufacture of these revolutionary devices. By 1301, guilds were regulating the sale of eyeglasses, and a separate guild of spectacle makers was formed in 1320. Eyeglasses quickly became a common sight, with famous figures like Francesco Petrarca and Franco Sacchetti mentioning them in their writings.
The earliest known depiction of spectacles can be found in Tommaso da Modena’s 1352 portrait of a cardinal reading in a scriptorium. The earliest frames were two magnifying glasses riveted together to grip the nose, known as “rivet spectacles.” The world’s first spectacle shop even opened in Strasbourg in 1466.
While the invention of eyeglasses is often attributed to Salvino degli Armati of Florence in the 13th century, this claim has been debunked as erroneous. The true story of eyeglasses is one of experimentation, collaboration, and innovation, spanning time and space.
When Were Prescription Glasses Invented?
Prescription glasses, also known as spectacles, were invented in the 13th century by an Italian named Salvino D’Armate. He created the first pair of eyeglasses by attaching two magnifying glasses to a frame made of metal or leather. These early glasses were worn on the nose and held in place by a cord that went around the head.
However, it wasn’t until the 17th century that the use of eyeglasses became widespread. At this time, vintage frames were made from metal, and the lenses were round. These glasses were still worn on the nose and were held in place by a ribbon that went around the ears.
During the 18th century, eyeglasses began to evolve into the modern form we know today. The frames were made from a more comfortable and lightweight material, such as wire or gold. Additionally, the temples (the arms of the glasses that rest on the ears) were added to hold the glasses in place. This made it possible for people to wear glasses for long periods of time without discomfort.
At some point during the 20th century, with the rise of new materials and manufacturing techniques, eyeglasses became more affordable and accessible to the general population. Today, prescription glasses are an essential tool for millions of people around the world, helping them to see clearly and live their lives to the fullest.
When Were Sunglasses Invented?
Sunglasses were first invented in the 18th century by James Ayscough. He believed that glasses tinted with certain colors, such as blue or green, could alleviate specific vision impairments and improve people’s eyesight. Ayscough’s glasses were not designed to protect the eyes from the sun’s rays but rather to alleviate specific vision impairments.
Though they had been around for some time, it was sometime during the 20th century that sunglasses began to be widely used as a means of protecting the eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. In 1936, the Polaroid Corporation introduced the first sunglasses with polarized lenses, which reduced glare and improved visibility in bright sunlight.
In the following decades, sunglasses became a fashionable accessory as well as a practical one. In the 1950s, movie stars such as James Dean and Audrey Hepburn popularized the use of sunglasses as a fashionable accessory. This trend continued in the 1960s with the introduction of designer sunglasses from brands such as Ray-Ban and Oakley.
Today, sunglasses are an essential accessory for people of all ages and walks of life. They not only protect the eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays but also serve as a fashionable accessory that can complement any style.
The impact of Glasses on Fashion and Style
The impact of eyeglasses on fashion and style is an interesting and evolving story. In the past, eyeglasses were mainly seen as a medical device and were not given much thought in terms of fashion or style. However, as they became more prevalent and accessible, they started to be seen as an important accessory that could reflect one’s personal style and fashion sense.
In recent years, the eyewear industry has exploded with new designs, materials, and technologies. Designer eyeglasses have become increasingly popular, with many high-end fashion brands such as Prada, Gucci, and Dior now offering their own lines of eyewear.
Additionally, there are a plethora of independent eyewear designers and brands that offer unique and stylish frames.
The rise of social media and the internet has also played a role in the fashionization of eyeglasses. With the ability to easily share images and videos online, eyeglasses have become an important part of personal branding and self-expression. The eyeglasses are not only functional but also a fashion statement.
In conclusion, the history of eyewear is a long and fascinating one that spans centuries and continents. From the earliest use of lenses for optical purposes by Roger Bacon in the 13th century, to the invention of the first eyeglasses in central Italy, to the rise of Venice as a hub for eyeglass production and the development of fashionable designer sunglasses, the evolution of eyewear is a story of human ingenuity and innovation.
Today, glasses continue to play an essential role in helping people see clearly and live their lives to the fullest. We hope this article has provided a brief and engaging look into the fascinating history of eyewear and inspires you to learn more about this fascinating subject.