There is more beyond being just an accessory…

Think about a bright sunny day; would you dare to go outside without sunglasses? Or if you have a visual impairment, would you be able to do anything without wearing your eyeglasses? Today, let’s have a look at how our ancestors made our lives easier one more time by inventing glasses.

Snow glasses

Even though there are many questions about the invention of glasses, historians meet at the same point that the first wearable pair of glasses were invented in the 13th century in Italy. They also give the same name, Salvino D’Armate, as the inventor of eyeglasses. The first eyeglasses were made with convex lenses bulged outward in the middle, and the main purpose was enlarging objects to be seen more easily. The frames were so heavy and made of wood, lead or copper, and they needed to be held by hands. In 1727, after almost 400 years, a  British optician made fixed eyeglasses frame which could be placed over the ears and nose. Thus, modern eyeglasses were placed into history.

The invention of sunglasses has a more interesting story. They were actually a flat pane of smoked quartz. However, they were not made for correcting the vision, or for protecting eyes from harmful UV rays. Chinese judges particularly used them for hiding facial expression in the court when they interrogated witnesses!

French Empire gilt scissors-glasses

Modern-type sunglasses became popular when Hollywood stars began using them to shield their eyes from bright studio lights. In addition, the famous Ray Ban company was the one that designed an anti-glare aviator style sunglasses using polarized lens technology in the late 1930s, and they were produced especially for pilots. Those sunglasses were designed with a slightly drooping frame perimeter to optimally shield the pilots’ eyes when they looked down at their instrument panel.


Posted on Feb. 10, 2017


  1. I love your blog! It is so interesting and I love that I’m learning something from it. That bit about movie stars wearing the sunglasses to protect their eyes from the studio lights was an “ah-ha” moment for me. Great job!

  2. Wow, such an interesting read! I never thought about the long history of sunglasses and simply assumed they were invented due to research about the harmful effects of UV rays. I look forward to reading your next post 🙂

  3. Wow, I wear my glasses everyday and never thought about how they came to be. I am very thankful to Salvino D’Armate. Cause without that man I’d be so blind. Do you know anything about how transitions were invented?

  4. Yes Linnea, probably most of us would be blind. I made a research about transitions and found that they were invented in the 1960s. The idea was based on photographic film. Those films darkens when silver based crystals inside films clump together when light comes on them. First transitions contained similar silver crystals that changed into microscopic bits of silver when light hits them. I hope that helps 🙂

  5. Really interesting how things get invented and the reason behind them. And how we think we can’t live without certain things that our ancestors lived without no problem- throws things into perspective.
    Great blogging, keep up the great work!

    • Thank you Sam. I definitely agree with you. I feel that we are so dependent on the certain things, and it is hard to imagine for us how our ancestors lived without them.

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