A Bit of Eyewear History

One of the things we love the most about our jobs is the way eyewear bridges the gap between fashion and function. After all, most of us wear prescription specs to correct our vision, which technically makes them medical devices! We choose frames (and sometimes even lenses) for style purposes, which make glasses a unique item in our wardrobes.

Did You Know?

According to the Museum of Vision, no one knows who invented eyeglasses, but they appeared on the scene somewhere between 1268 and 1289 in Italy. Among the first eyeglass-wearers were monks and scholars, who would hold the glasses in front of their eyes, or balance them on the nose. When literacy rates jumped in the 1450s (thanks to the printing press), so did the proliferation of new eyeglass designs and, eventually, this led to mass-production of inexpensive eyeglasses.

Famous Moments in Eyewear

  • 1728: The first known advertisement of eyeglasses with a temple piece that wraps around the ear
  • 1784: Benjamin Franklin invented bifocal lenses
  • 1800s: Lorgnettes were the preferred to eyeglasses, and were so popular they were built into everything from fans to walking sticks
  • 1930s: Sunglasses begin gaining in popularity, and WWII resulted in advances in sunglass design
  • 1950s: Function officially meets fashion in the world of glasses and sunglasses

Additional Reading

Interesting in reading up on eyewear? We’ve been eyeing:

Vintage Andy Warhol in l.a. eyeworks

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