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History of Eyeglasses

The History of Eyeglasses

What is the history of eyeglasses? When did glasses start being used for vision correction? Who invented glasses? No one knows the name of the inventor of magnification, but between 1000 and 1250 AD, reading stones appeared — spherical magnifying glasses you could lay over your manuscript to enlarge letters as you read.

According to Antique Spectacles, though Greek and Arabic scholars had described the idea of convex (or converging) lenses, it was a thirteenth-century English Friar, Roger Bacon (one of the founders of modern science), who confirmed the idea with experiments. Bacon experimented with lenses and mirrors and recorded his observations about reflection and refraction.

The first pair of what we would consider eyeglasses appeared in the late 1200s in Pisa, Italy. These eyeglasses actually looked like two small magnifying glasses (made with convex-shaped glass) riveted together at the top of their handles. We do not know the name of the individual who came up with this idea, perhaps because he wanted to keep it secret to profit from it.

However, two monks in Italy hailed the new invention of eyeglasses a few decades later. Antique Spectacles provides this quotation from the earliest primary source, the monks Giordano da Rivalto and Alessandro della Spina: “On Feb. 23, 1306, Giordano mentioned them by stating in a sermon ‘it is not yet twenty years since there was found the art of making eyeglasses which make for good vision, one of the best arts and most necessary that the world has.’ He coined the word ‘Occhiale’ [eyeglasses].”

The Museum of Vision notes that early eyeglasses were mostly used by monks and scholars. Instead of having temples that went behind your ears, these spectacles were held in front of your eyes or balanced on your nose.

The exclusivity of eyeglasses changed after the invention of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg in 1452. Not only did that monumental invention open up reading to the general public, but it also brought about a rise in the need for eyeglasses, which led to the first “mass production of inexpensive spectacles.” The demand for eyeglasses increased again with the start of the first newspaper, the London Gazette, in 1665.

By the 1800s eyeglasses abounded, but not as we think of them today. You didn’t have lenses custom made; rather, you went to a jeweler, hardware store, or met with a traveling peddler to try on different pairs of eyeglasses until you found one that worked. The Museum of Science notes, “Eyeglasses were considered evidence of old age and infirmity.” So instead of wearing eyeglasses all the time, people often opted for handheld devices such as lorgnettes (spectacles with a single handle on one side) or scissor spectacles (where lenses moved on a hinge).

Scissor spectacles and lorgnettes were popular in France. Although we may associate the flourishing of these types of eyeglasses with the aristocracy, it was actually the French revolutionaries who used them the most. According to the United Kingdom institute The College of Optometrists, “Napoleon Bonaparte used a pair to correct his myopia.”

The next popular style of glasses was the “pince-nez.” These were inexpensive spectacles that perched on the bridge of your nose. Not surprisingly, they were uncomfortable and easy to lose. By 1890, spectacles also moved into the realm of fashion: “Fan spectacles were designed for ladies of elegance to use as a multifunctional accessory.”

The sides, or temples, that we associate with modern eyeglasses came late in the history. After various inventors took stabs at ways to better attach spectacles — such as an over-the-head, under-the-bonnet crown, or eyewear that attaches to a cap—it wasn’t until about 1727 that spectacles became eyeglasses with the introduction of sides.

In London, Edward Scarlett, optician to His Majesty George II, was the first to advertise eyeglasses with sides. These kind of glasses became known as the “Scarlett-type.” In this case, the sides ended in a flat spiral (later replaced by rings), which were designed to rest against the head, not go behind the ear as eyeglasses typically do today. For once, you could easily take eyeglasses on or off, and yet they didn’t interfere with your hair or your wig.

From there, the invention of different forms of temples took off. Double-joined temples folded back on themselves to provide more comfort, and turn-pin sides were long and curved around your head almost completely. In the mid 1850s curl sides were invented, which were curling wires that went behind your ears. Curl-side frames were especially common as children’s eyeglasses because they stayed in place while running or playing.

The American renaissance man Benjamin Franklin is credited with inventing bifocals in the mid 1700s. He split one lens in half, with the upper part being made for distance viewing and the lower part for near viewing. Antique Spectacles notes that Franklin wrote to London philanthropist George Whatley in May 1785, “As I wear my own glasses constantly, I have only to move my eyes up or down, as I want to see distinctly far or near, the proper glasses being always ready.”

By the end of the 18th century, Philadelphia store proprietor John McAllister opened the first optical shop in America. When the War of 1812 and the trade embargo with Great Britain hindered his importing ability, he began making his own frames out of gold and silver. He and his son also imported the first cylindrical lenses for astigmatism. Antique Spectacles calls him “the founder of the profession of opticianary in this country.”

Today, in the 21st century, you can find thousands of styles of eyeglasses in all shapes, sizes, and colors. You can even order eyeglasses online by visiting a retailer like The inventors of the past have created a product that is more than popular: Today, the Vision Council estimates there are over 149 million adult eyeglass wearers in the United States (more than half of U.S. adults).


Glasses to Fit My Face: on MyFox 9 was featured in a video segment on “How Do I Choose Glasses to Fit My Face?” on MyFox 9, KMSP-TV Minneapolis-St. Paul. The report includes some terrific information on choosing frames for various face shapes as well as other tips, including links to some of our top eyeglasses.

Related pages & posts – Video: Verifying Your Prescription, Face Shape Guide Videos, YouTube Channel, What’s My Eyeglass Frame Size?, Try On Eyeglasses Online, Video: Eyeglasses Lens Quality, Frame Size Guide, Frames Direct Discount Promotions.

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History of Sunglasses

History of Sunglasses

Contrary to what one might assume, the history of sunglasses didn’t derive solely from the desire to shield the eyes from the sun. Much like one of their alternative uses today, the first documented purpose of sunglasses was to shield facial expressions instead of sunlight. Since then, sunglasses have been used for everything from blocking harmful rays while in outer space, to enabling the wearer to see through water.

Smoky Quartz in China

Ray Ban RB3025 Aviator Sunglasses

Ray-Ban (short for banning sun rays), created the avator-style sunglasses made for pilots in the 30s.

One of the first concepts of sunglasses dates back to the 12th century, when court figures in China wore glasses with smoky quartz lenses in order to hide their facial expressions. In doing so, the judges could give the illusion of non-responsiveness to the testimonies, therefore not revealing their decision until the final verdict.

Tints for Better Vision

The first sunglasses made for the public came to light in the 18th century, when designer and inventor James Ayscough from England created eyeglasses with blue or green tints. Ayscough believed that the tint could improve vision, and he sold the shades for public use. Though his intention wasn’t to block the sun, his invention was another building block in the history of sunglass design.

Sunglasses for Medical Aid

In the 19th century, a syphilis outbreak emerged in Europe. Yellow and brown-tinted sunglasses were prescribed to people who carried syphilis, to counteract one of the disease’s symptoms of visual sensitivity to light.

Mainstream Popularity History

The first milestone in sunglass popularity was started by Sam Foster in 1929. Foster, founder of Foster Grant eyewear, developed the first affordable sunglasses made for mass production. Foster sold sunglasses on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, and his products soon gained widespread popularity in America. The company continued to grow in popularity in the 1960s, with their “Who’s That Behind Those Foster Grants?” campaign, which popularized the sunglasses with Hollywood celebrities.

Birth of the Aviators

Following the launch of Foster Grant sunglasses, the Army Air Corps worked with Bausch & Lomb in the 1930s to develop a sunglass lens specifically designed for pilots. Bausch & Lomb created a sunglass specific company call Ray-Ban (short for banning sun rays), which in turn created the aviator-style sunglasses made for pilots. Aviators incorporated polarized lenses with the help of Edwin H. Land (founder of Polaroid), and gained popularity when General Douglas MacArthur made a public appearance wearing a pair of Ray-Ban Aviators in the Philippines during WWII.

Lens Technology

Through the mid to late 1900s, sunglasses continued to grow in popularity. Movies, musicians, and politicians that wore sunglasses in the public eye created a widespread consumer interest, and several other sunglass companies began to develop. The science of sunglass technology continued to prosper as well, as other features of mass-produced sunglasses began to materialize, like anti-reflective coating, anti-fog coating, shatter and scratch resistant lenses, UV protection, and others.

Are You an Outdoor Person? Then UV Contact Lenses Are for You!

Contact Lens Solutions: What They Do and Why You Need Them

Contact Lens Solution

Contact Lens Solution

Cleaning your contacts is a little more complicated than driving your car through a car wash. Though there are contact lens solutions that are multi-purpose and all-in-one, the process of cleaning your contacts can involve several steps and different liquids specifically designed to remove harmful particles that build up on their surface. Even tap water can result in harmful eye infections like Acanthamoeba when used to store contacts, so it’s important to choose the right contact solution for you. Bear in mind that whatever goes on your contact goes in your eye, so take the utmost care and consult an eye physician when selecting the proper lens solution. Here’s a list of the typical types of contact lens solutions and general descriptions of what they do.

Saline solution – Saline solution is designed to clean the lens by removing dirt, chemicals, and residue from other contact lens solutions. Commonly confused with disinfecting solution, saline solution’s primary purpose is for storage and to clean the lens before insertion, but not to be used as a disinfectant. Saline solution is generally applied by placing a single contact in the palm of your hand, submerging it under a few drops of the solution, and gently scrubbing both sides of the contact with your index finger for approximately 20 seconds.

Hydrogen peroxide (or disinfecting) solution – Peroxide solution is designed for storage of your contact lens to remove unwanted buildup. While soaking in this solution overnight, the peroxide extracts bacteria and other elements from your contact that are known to cause eye infections like Conjunctivitis (pink eye). Should you use the hydrogen peroxide solution, be sure to rinse it with saline solution prior to inserting the contact into your eye if it does not include a neutralizer. Failure to do so could result in severe pain to your eyes, due to the the acidic base of the solution.

Multi-purpose solution – Multi-purpose solution combines daily cleanser with disinfecting solution. This solution is commonly the most used, because it can serve as a daily cleanser, and as an overnight storage to remove protein. Contact lens wearers that use the multi-purpose solution on a daily basis typically don’t have a need for the other solutions, besides rewetting drops. Multi-purpose solution can be applied by soaking the contact in the solution overnight, and by placing the contact in the palm of your hand along with a few drops of the solution and using your index finger to gently scrub the contact.

Enzyme cleaner/Protein remover – This solution removes protein buildup from the contact. The tear duct of your eye naturally produces protein, which attaches itself to the contact and will eventually cause irritation. These products can come in liquid or pill form, and both usually require to be added to another solution. As with all of these products, be sure to check the directions of the specific solution to understand the specific steps in using it.

Rewetting solution – Occasionally, contact lens wearers will experience moments of dryness when wearing their contacts. When this happens, rewetting solutions can be applied to moisturize the lens and ease their discomfort. Unlike the other solutions, this solution is usually applied directly to the contact while it is in the eye.

Daily Cleanser – This solution is used to cleanse the contact prior to disinfection. It removes debris that might cause eye irritation and other discomforts. Most daily cleaners are applied by placing the contact in the palm of your hand, adding a few drops of cleanser, and gently scrubbing each side of the contact with your index finger. Daily cleanser is not recommended for storage.

Good eye hygiene is indispensable to good eye health, and contact lens wearers should get into a daily habit of practicing measures for the well-being of their eyes. The following guidelines will assist you to ensure the ongoing protection and vitality of your eyes.

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly before handling contact lenses.
  • Use only sterile products recommended by your eye care practitioner to clean and disinfect your lenses. Keep in mind that saline solution and rewetting drops are not intended to disinfect contact lenses.
  • Do not wash or store contact lenses in tap water.
  • Carefully rub and rinse the surface of the contact lens before storing.
  • Discard contact solution upon opening the case and use fresh solution each time contact lenses are put back in the case.
  • Never swap lenses with someone else.
  • Only replace lenses using your eye care practitioner’s prescribed schedule.
  • Never put the contact lenses in your mouth.
  • Do not sleep in contact lenses unless prescribed by your doctor, and never after swimming.
  • See your optometrist regularly for a contact lens evaluation.
  • Please see your eye care practitioner immediately should you experience redness, secretions, visual blurring or pain.


It's Summer - Time for Swimming Goggles

Swimming With Contact Lenses

Swimming while wearing contact lenses is always a gamble without proper protection. You could catch an infection, garner harmful buildup on your contacts, or even worse, damage your eyes. On the other hand, infections and eye damage from swimming with contacts are relatively rare, so in the end decision is up to you. Though it might seem inconvenient to remove them before you go swimming, here are a few potential risks of swimming with contacts lenses.

“You should always consult your personal eye doctor and use your best judgment before you decide to swim while wearing contacts,” says Dr. Hodgson of

Contacts Aren’t Designed for Swimming

Your contacts are special to you. They have a unique curvature that enables them to bond to your eyes like little suction cups to prevent them from falling out. When submerged underwater, be it a lake or a swimming pool, the excess water disrupts the bond between the contacts and the eye, causing the contacts to slip and become dislodged. This is why so many people lose their contacts while swimming; the contact isn’t designed for water submersion without some kind of protection.

Contacts Aren’t Protective

Though they may appear solid, certain types of contacts are designed to be slightly porous to allow the eyes to breath. This permeable aspect means that microbes, chemicals, and bacteria can filter through the contact and become lodged between the eye and the contact. These harmful impurities can cause infections, irritations, and damage to the eye.

Chlorine Sticks to Contacts

Small amounts of pool chlorine normally don’t affect the eye, unless there are contacts involved. Chlorine sticks to contacts, so when swimmers who are wearing contacts open their eyes underwater, the chlorine can occasionally attach to the contacts and irritate the eyes. This can lead to many bad scenarios, such as eye infection and corneal scratching or scarring.

How to Swim with Contacts

The only way to swim while wearing contacts without risking any eye damage is to wear goggles. Goggles create a natural air barrier around the eyes, which prevents infections from water, and helps secure the contacts within the eyes. Prescription goggles are also available if the swimmer wishes to remove their contacts before wearing goggles. In any case, use your best judgment.

Related: How to Wash Your Contact Lenses, Contact Lenses – What are Your Choices?, Sunglasses & Contact Lenses Go Together, Bolle Tips for Wearing Goggles over Corrective Eyewear, Online Glasses, Acuvue Brand Contact Lenses Catalog.

CFX Concept Flex Kids Eyeglasses

Eyeglasses for Children

1. Lens Type

Polycarbonate is one of the most durable lenses available, so it can adhere to a child’s lifestyle without becoming a potential danger. This lens material is impact resistant, so if a child is playing and falls, these lenses won’t shatter like plastic or glass lenses do. They are also lighter than plastic or glass lenses, which helps the child’s adjustment to wearing eyeglasses.

“If your child wears prescription glasses, we strongly suggest polycarbonate lenses for their safety,” says Dr. Hodgson of “These lenses are impact-resistant, which will help protect your child from injuries if he or she has an accident while wearing eyeglasses.”

Lenses come with several options, and a few of these are a wise idea for your child. Scratch-resistant coating on the lenses will ensure that your child’s eyeglasses will last even if they’re dropped or mishandled. Most polycarbonate lenses come with UV protection, so be sure to check with your eye doctor to make sure this option is included.

2. Frame Type
Plastic frames used to be the preferred lens type for children because of their durability, until metal materials became more useful and durable. Flexon frames are lightweight, stylish, come in a variety of colors, can bend in different directions and always return to their original form. These frames are very useful if your child occasionally mishandles their frames or tends to fall asleep while wearing them.

3. Frame Look

Fortunately for parents, many designers make specialty children’s frames that fit their needs and have an attractive appearance. Though your child may want to pick out frames on their own, parents should oversee the procedure to make sure they are getting frames that function correctly for them. For instance, rimless or semi-rimless frames are generally not recommended for children, because the frames don’t secure the lenses as effectively as other frame types. If rimless frames are mishandled, they can simply loose the lens, or in more severe cases, the lens can become chipped inside the frame and cause a potential injury.

4. Nose Pads

Another benefit of metal frames is that most of them come with adjustable nose pads, with non-slip pads available as an option. This benefits the child in two ways: they can adjust the nose pad so it fits comfortably and securely, and the non-slip pad will ensure that the glasses stay properly fixed to the child’s face.

5. Goggles

Though Flexon and other frame types are relatively durable, if your child is an active sports enthusiast then goggles are recommended. Typical eyeglass frames don’t secure to the child’s head during active moments, and if the glasses fall off repeatedly they could cause an injury. Prescription goggles secure to the child’s head so they don’t fall off, and the material is much more shatter resistant and durable than typical eyeglasses.

6. Warranties and Spare Pairs

Most doctor offices and eyewear designers offer warranties on eyeglasses for children. Make sure you find a pair of eyeglasses that has at least a one year warranty. Aside from a warranty, it’s also a good idea to have spare pair of glasses on hand in case your child’s glasses are lost or broken, and you have to wait for another pair to be ordered.