Not so long ago, getting prescription glasses meant you were a nerd who had strained your eyes with too much study – or you were getting really, really old! Today, however, prescription eyeglasses are proving more popular than ever as a fashion accessory as much as a function necessity.
Today visiting an Optometrist is considered to be as routine as visiting the dentist. Right from children to adults, everyday more people are in need of visual aids. Whatever be the reason for wearing glasses, it is accepted as a tool and an aid.
With the advances in technology and sciences, today there are so many choices available when it comes to wearing glasses. The most advanced of which is the choice between plastic and glass lenses. Almost everyone today prefers wearing plastic lenses in their glasses for practical purposes such as avoiding breakage and scratching and having lighter glasses to wear.
However this wasn’t always the scene. There was a time when glasses were heavy and cumbersome. In fact there was a time when glasses were everything that glasses today are not.
The wearing glasses story begins in 8th century BC. Egyptian hieroglyphics depict simple lenses. In the 1st century AD, records show that Nero watched gladiators through an emerald, and his tutor records how using a globe full of water through which to read letters, no matter how small enlarges them. In the 9th century, Reading Stones were invented by Abbas Ibn Firnas. These were glasses that were highly polished and shaped into round rocks and could be used to read. As early as 1021 AD magnifying glasses with a convex lens were developed. In the 12thcentury in China, flat pieces of quartz were used to protect the eyes, and were probably the earliest types of sun glasses.
In the wearing glasses story however, there is a continued confusion about who invented the first reading glasses. Several people over history have been credited with this invention though none have been confirmed due to lack of records. But it’s definite that the reading glass was developed in the 13th century.
Even though technology wasn’t as advanced in the 13th century as is it now, the early reading glasses had convex lenses and later on concave lenses to help in nearsightedness and farsightedness. However it was only in the 17th century that an explanation about the functioning of convex and concave lenses was given.
Benjamin Franklin invented the bifocal lens in 1784 as a result of being tired of shifting between 2 pairs of glasses for his myopia and presbyopia.
Over the centuries, the reading glasses have evolved from being polished round glass, to flat pieces kept over the paper, to being held in frames and held near the eyes. In the 18th century, European fashions changed, and reading glasses were worn on ribbons and lateral handles and often used as a fashion accessory. The modern style of glasses was developed in 1727 by Edward Scarlett. However it didn’t become popular immediately. Today it’s another story. Glasses are widely accepted and are available in various plastics and metals