John Lennon’s Glasses & Sunglasses: The Complete Guide

John Lennon was arguably one of the most famous and infuential people in recent history. The Beatles was one of the most popular bands. He is commonly seen wearing circular perfectly round glasses in gold color and he instantly popularized the style. In fact, they’re so associated with his image they’re now commonly referred to as “Lennon glasses.” 

John Lennon Loved eyeglasses. At one point he was coming in to his optician every three weeks for repairs because he would break his glasses. However, this was not always the case.

John Lennon Wearing Windsor Style Glasses

What Kind Of Glasses Did John Lennon Wear?

John Lennon wore many different styles of glasses and had more pairs of glasses than you can possibly imagine. Most famous amongst them are the circular perfectly round windsor glasses he is most famous for but many were not the iconic round glasses you always think about. In the early days John Lennon had contact lenses but he really didn’t like wearing them and often times he would go to school without his contacts. This proved challenging as John could barely see without them.

In the early Days John Lennon would wear dark John wore thick Buddy Holly-style horn-rimmed glasses until 1966, when he started acting in the film “How I Won the War” in . During WWII, a company called ALGHA WORKS was contracted to provide British troops with eyewear and made the government-issued glasses that Lennon’s Private Gripweed would have worn in real life. After the war, ALGHA then became the provider of free eyewear for the British National Health Service (NHS).

The Eyeglass frames John is most famously associated with are called Windsor glasses. Traditional windsor glasses are circular wire-rimmed, with round lenses and a saddle bridge, also known as a W Bridge, that sits directly on the nose without nose pads. (Nose pads had not been invented until the 1920’s, Windsor glasses were common since 1880.) and temples that wrap around the ears to keep them in place. They are also often called tea shades, round granny glasses.

Originally, he recieved the frames from the National Health Care system
After becoming famous, he purchased most of these round glasses frames in flea markets. One of his favorite buying places was a small stall located in Camden Passage. This flea market is open every Wednesday year-round.

You can read an interview with his NY Optometrist here.

John Lennon also wore, plastic, and P3 Panto style eyeglasses. This style of eyeglasses was very popular during World War II and went out of style in the mid-1970s.

This image is of Lennon wearing the Marshwood style eyeglasses

John Lennon often bought antique and vintage eyeware rather than new frames

Why Did John Lennon Wear Round Glasses?

In 1966, John was cast in How I Won the War as a British soldier in WWII. John, who had needed glasses since a teen, generally didn’t wear them when in the public eye. While filming, he wore glasses that were appropriate to the costume and retained that look for much of his life. The round frames were basically what his character. Gripweed, would have worn, and Lennon liked the look and stuck with it.

While one of the actual eyeglass frames John Lennon Wore were auctioned for $200,000, you can find the same style of specs at far more reasonable prices.

Did John Lennon Need Glasses

John Lennon was extremely short sighted. John’s Lennons eyeglasses were passed through a focimeter, a machine that measures the prescription in a given pair of frames. His prescription read -8.25 in his right eye, and -7.50 in his left eye. This is a very high prescription, he would not be able to see clearly beyond a few feet without the help of eyeglasses.

John Lennon Glasses Size

The size of the windsor frames john lennon wore has been subject to much debate. Similar windsor frames generally had a lens diameter of 40mm. However, a closer analysis seems to indicate that John Lennon’s Round glasses were 36mm or 38mm at most. This is based the proportionate space they take up on his face as seen in the various images of Lennon available online. 40mm Windsor Glasses would cover a larger of his face.

Later eyeglass frames worn by John Lennon in the ovid shape were likely closer to 44mm wide, and the plastic frames John Lennon wore were likely closer to 48mm.

John Lennon Glasses Color

John Lennon often wore gold glasses but sometimes silver as well, such as in the Penny lane music video. In some photos he can be seen wearing yellow plastic glasses as well.

John Lennon wore various shades of tinted lenses, sometimes orange yellow, green and light blue.

John Lennon Sunglasses

John Lennon Sunglasses

John Lennon also wore various styles of sunglasses as well as different colors of tinted lenses. This type of vintage frames was originally used as safety glasses in an industrial setting. The military made large quantities of these. They eventually made their ways into the commercial market place from military surplus sales.

In the Penny Lane Music video John Lennon can be seen wearing a pair of Green Japenese flip up sunglasses. These were inexpensive yet funky sunglasses made in japan, certainly not strong enough to hold prescription lenses.

In 2019 a pair of John Lennon’s Sunglasses fetched $183,000 USD at auction. These are an oval windsor style pair of sunglasses. Per the photos these are a seemingly newer pair of windsor glasses. They have regular skull temples as opposed to the cable temples typical of genuine windsor eyeglasses. They also have thicker flat temples not common until the 1960s.