Dates, events, facts
Through the centuries: some interesting facts about glasses
Spectacles are widely used nowadays, but they are not a recent invention. They have been around for centuries, changing with the times to eventually become the modern glasses we are familiar with today. Here are 10 interesting facts about this crucial human invention.
- The first vision aid was invented around 1000 AD. It was called a reading stone – a small glass sphere that was placed on top of small letters and texts to magnify them for easy reading.
- Wearable eyeglasses can be traced back to Italy around 1284. The first eyeglasses were simply glass lenses mounted on heavy frames that were held up manually or worn on the nose. These frames were made of natural materials like wood, copper, leather and bone.
- Early Spanish eyeglass manufacturers fixed ribbons to the lenses and looped the ribbons on the wearer’s ears to keep them from constantly slipping down the nose. This led to the eventual creation of the modern temple arms that allow glasses to rest comfortably on the bridge of the nose and on top of the ears without slipping in the 1700s.
- Despite its name, glasses aren’t actually made with glass! At least not the modern ones. Today, lenses are made of high-tech plastics that can be treated to have a filter to protect eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. These lenses are thinner, lighter and more durable than glass because they don’t break easily and are more scratch-resistant.
- We all know that Benjamin Franklin was a Founding Father of the United States and inventor of the lightning rod, but did you know he also developed the bifocal lenses? Benjamin Franklin was both near and far-sighted and had two pairs of glasses. Tired of switching between glasses all the time, he cut the lenses from his two pairs of spectacles and put half of each lens in a single frame. The top lens aided with seeing distant objects, and the lower lenses at the bottom helped with reading and seeing nearby objects.
- Contrary to popular belief, wearing someone’s glasses will not damage your eyes. You may experience headaches due to eye strain and eye fatigue if you wear them for long, but it won’t do any lasting damage.
- Cheaper glasses work just as well as expensive ones in blocking harmful UV rays, but the more expensive, prescribed ones tend to provide better protective technologies because they are customized to the individual wearer.
- Singer and songwriter Sir Elton John’s love for wacky and unique glasses are no secret. His personal glasses collection boasts of more than 25,000 pairs and growing.
- Before Tom Cruise and Top Gun, Ray-ban aviator sunglasses were originally designed for pilots in the US military to protect their eyes while flying, hence the name ‘aviator’.
- According to studies and research all around the world, 50% of the world’s population may need to wear some form of glasses or corrective lenses.
Imagine having to tie a ribbon around your head just to keep your glasses from falling off or carrying two pairs of glasses everywhere. Aren’t you glad for the invention of modern glasses?