It is amazing how glasses have evolved over the years. If you thought they are a fairly recent invention, the fact is, they are quite ancient. The first pair of glasses were invented in Italy between 1268 and 1289. These were used by monks and scholars only because few people needed or had the ability to read and write. These glasses were balanced on the nose or held in front of the eyes. The invention of printing press and availability of books inspired new designs. This eventually resulted to mass production of cheaper glasses.
By 15th century, Italy was a leader in producing and selling the best eyeglasses. These were available in different compositions and styles at different prices. Germany started producing the finest looking frames in the 17th century. The spectacle frames evolved later on. The following are chronological details of how glasses have evolved over the years.
How Glasses Have Evolved Over Centuries
In the 18th century, the most remarkable development was the invention of bifocals and side temples that rest over the ears. Bifocal eyeglasses were invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1784. Benjamin needed glasses for close and distance vision. He cut the lenses in halves and mounted the distance and close vision lenses on his glasses. Other common styles included: Martin’s Margins, scissors and Wig spectacles. Among these styles, bifocals was the most remarkable invention.
In the 19th century, people considered glasses as evidence of infirmity and old age. Consequently they could only be worn when needed. A hinged bridge with a string, was the most remarkable invention during the 19th century. This invention allowed the folding of glasses and shades. During this period, glasses tinted with brown and yellow-amber were prescribed to people with syphilis. This was because light sensitivity was one of the symptoms of syphilis.
Lorgnettes were invented around 1780, specifically for scissors spectacles. They consisted a pair of glasses with a long single handle.
The 20th century saw mass production of glasses and shades. Styles changed as celebrities and Hollywood movie stars began to significantly influence fashion. Advances in plastic manufacturing influenced the inventions of various glasses and shades. Glasses flames were designed with fashion in mind. The use of shades became widespread. Polarized sunglasses were invented by Edwin H. Land in 1936. Polarization lead to the development of anti-glare aviator style glasses. These became very popular with celebrities and later with the public.
Nowadays, ultra-violent protection glasses are an industry standard. There is continuous discovery of lighter and newer material for making glasses and shades. The availability of framed and flame-less eyeglasses is an evidence of how glasses have evolved over the years. Shades and glasses are considered part of people’s wardrobes. Since 1980s, advances in technical innovation continue to produce new, high quality plastic glasses. Glasses and shades have evolved through centuries into their modern form. Mass production will continue to inspire cheaper, lighter, safer and long lasting inventions. Fashion dynamics will perpetually influence the design and styles of future shades and glasses.