Eyeglass frames long ago ceased to be merely a functional object. They have transcended their utilitarian origins as simple vision correctors to become not only a necessity of life but a fashion staple. Today’s frames run the gamut from high-priced designer baubles to affordable, durable essentials–and everything in between
•Italian Salvino D’Armate is often credited with being the inventor of eyeglasses in the late 1200s, but this credit has been under some dispute. What is known is that in around 1280 references to eyeglasses begin to appear in both writings and art. These earliest eyeglasses had frames that were held up to the eyes and were used to assist with reading.
•The earliest eyeglasses, sometimes called lorgnettes, were held up using a handle. Frames which sat on the face by pinching the bridge of the nose, called pince-nez frames, emerged in the 1400s and remained popular up through the early 1900’s. Eyeglass frames with temples to hold them onto the ears were developed in 1727 and remain the chosen design of frames today.
•The primary purpose of an eyeglass frame is to hold lenses for correcting vision. Corrective lenses are prescribed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist and placed in a chosen frame to alleviate presbyopia (age-related vision changes), nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Eyeglass frames may be manufactured with special shatter-resistant lenses to protect the eye from flying materials in a variety of occupations and sports. Eyeglass frames are also used as a fashion accessory, containing lenses with no prescription.
•Eyeglass frames are available in every color, style, shape, size and material one could possibly imagine. Some form of metal or plastic is the most common material for modern glasses. Plastic frames are often made of zyl or cellulose acetate. Zyl is a sturdy, lightweight, moldable material that can be made in a variety of colors and shapes. Popular metals used in eyeglass frames include titanium, stainless-steel, aluminum and nickel.
•Today’s eyeglass frame buyer has many features to consider. Frame designs include the standard full frames, half-rimless frames or rimless frames. Rimless frame designs hold lenses in place with either a drill-mounted mechanism or a thin, clear cord similar to a fishing line. Several different styles of temple fits are available including temples that have a spring-hinge for durability and comfort. Sturdy and lightweight frames made from titanium alloys allow frames to be twisted and bent without breaking. Eyeglass frame designs with accents are popular and may include jewels, crystals, wood, leather or precious metals.
•Most eyeglass frames are marked with their manufacture, style and size to ease identification. These markings are engraved or stamped on the inside of the frame, often on the temples or bridge. The name of the individual style is frequently included as is the color of the frame. The markings placed on the frame differ between manufactures.
•The invention of eyeglasses has changed the lives of generations of people. Prior to the invention of eyeglasses individuals had to be read to as they aged, and many were unable to read at all. The availability and affordability of eyeglass frames today means people are not limited by their refractive disorders such as near and farsightedness.