The History Of Eyeglasses

The History Of Eyeglasses

The inventor of the eyeglasses isn’t known, as the use of visual aids to alter light have been recorded since ancient Rome. Since then, eyeglasses have been made to be even more precise and advanced, and we can now create eyeglasses in a variety of shapes and styles for any prescription and with added lens coatings. In order for modern eyeglasses to exist in their current state, including bifocals, contact lenses, and specialty eyewear, there were many years of vision correction advancement that first needed to take place. To understand the importance of vision and the field of optometry, let’s learn more about the history of eyeglasses.

Eyeglasses Throughout The Ages

Early Eyeglasses
It has been said that in ancient Rome, Seneca (a philosopher who lived from 4 BC to 65 AD) used glass spheres as a type of magnifying glass. This same strategy was employed by monks in the Middle Ages. By the 13th century, Italy became home to the first recorded eyeglasses similar to modern eyeglasses. Glass was blown and fitted into wood, leather, bone, or horn frames and used by holding it in one hand (like a modern-day magnifying glass) or perched on the end of the nose.

The Advancement Of Eyeglasses
Basic eyeglasses used to assist those with hyperopia (farsightedness) and presbyopia (developed inability to see close objects) spread in popularity. Technological advancement halted until the 17th century when concave and convex eyeglasses were invented. For the first time, myopia (nearsightedness) could be addressed. Around this time, Benjamin Martin popularized over-ear eyeglass frames that are still popular today. Bifocals were created in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin to address near and far vision and in 1825 cylindrical lenses were created by Sir George Airy to address astigmatism.

The Availability Of Eyeglasses
For many years, eyeglasses were only available for upper-class citizens, often scholars. When eyeglasses were first seen in common usage, it was among monks and monarchs, some of the only citizens who could read. Even by the time Benjamin Franklin created the bifocals, eyeglasses were still handmade and were not available for average working men and women. Eyeglasses became mass-produced and widely available with the rise of the industrial revolution. During this period of eyeglasses' popularity among the masses, new styles were developed and frames were made of different materials and in a selection of shapes and colours.

Modern Eyeglasses
With the development of plastic, eyeglasses frames began to be made of this as well as metal, causing wood, horn, and bone frames to go out of style. Sunglasses came into common production and use around 1929 and plastic lenses were developed in the 1980s, making eyeglasses more durable, thinner, lighter, and ideal for UV-blocking and scratch-resistant coatings.

Find The Right Eyeglasses For You

Although vision correction has been around for thousands of years, the technological advancement of eyeglasses has led us to incredible, modern corrective lenses. Optometrists now offer various kinds of eyeglasses with all types of available additional coatings. If you need a new pair of eyeglasses, Specs in the City can make sure your prescription is up-to-date with an eye exam and our opticians can help you find the perfect pair of frames. To schedule an eye exam, contact Specs in the City at 1-403-252-2020 or fill out the online contact form. To look at eyeglasses lenses or to get an eyeglass fitting, visit us in person in Calgary along Blackfoot Trail SE.


Q: How can I make my eyeglasses last longer?
A: If you want to prevent damage to your lenses or frames, make sure you care for your eyeglasses properly and remember to treat them gently. Always keep your eyeglasses in a hard case when you’re not wearing them, avoid sudden temperature changes, and do not add pressure to the frames by sleeping with your eyeglasses on.

Q: Can you go blind from refractive errors?
A: Yes. It is possible to go blind from uncorrected refractive errors. However, these cases are relatively rare as most cases tend to plateau instead.

Q: What kinds of lens coatings can I add to my prescription eyeglasses?
A: Popular lens coatings for prescription eyeglasses include anti-reflective coating, anti-scratch coating, UV coating, and mirror coating. Photochromic coatings (transition) and polarized lenses can also be added to most eyewear. Your eye doctor can give you specific recommendations based on your lifestyle.

Share This Post:

Related Posts

Contact Us Today!

Your eyes are our priority! Our knowledgeable and professional staff can answer all your questions. Call us today at 1-403-252-2020 or fill out the form below:

Specs in the City
Have Questions? Call Us Today At

Call Us

TopFind UsBook OnlineCall Us
TopFind UsBook OnlineCall Us