Though some sources cite the first eyeglasses dating back to 1317, the idea may have started much sooner. In fact, some historians claim that modern eyeglass history began as early as 1000 BC. Then there are those who believe that Benjamin Franklin first created glasses in the 1700s, but the truth is that he invented bifocals, which are a type of lens.
So, if none of these people invented eyeglasses, then who did? It turns out that we really don’t know who invented glasses!
Who Invented Glasses During the Renaissance?
Many people hold the belief that eyeglasses were invented during the late 13th century in Italy by Salvino D’Armati.
While we don’t know if this is true or not, we do know that modern eyeglasses began as two convex lenses that were placed into a wooden setting, with a shaft that was held together using a rivet. This style required the wearer to hold it up against their face for improved vision. Yet, this is only one account that aims to answer the question of who invented eyeglasses.
As it appears, the person who actually created eyeglasses depends on who you ask.
When Were Eyeglasses Invented?
As we mentioned, most accounts claim that eyeglasses originated in 13th-century Italy, but it wasn’t until the 18th century that eyeglasses began to take the shape of what we know today.
Up until this century, eyeglasses did not affix to the wearer’s face; they had to be held in front of the eyes for use. During the 18th century, glasses began to feature temples and a nose bridge, which really helped them stay in place on the face without falling. Advancements continued from here and moved toward using better materials, more comfortable nose bridges, and better-designed temples.
History of Bifocals
The bifocal was first invented in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin. He had issues with seeing near and far, so he decided to create a pair of glasses that would allow him to do both rather than switch between two pairs. Franklin’s bifocal was created by cutting and combining two different lenses into the same frame, with the difference being between the upper and lower lenses.
Louis de Wecker, in the 19th century, was a French Ophthalmologist who helped improve Franklin’s original model by fusing the upper and lower lenses together. Then came Peter Williams, who coined the term “bifocal” and invented the trifocal lens.
Today’s bifocals have not changed in design since Franklin’s time. The only thing you’ll notice is that modern eyeglasses use better manufacturing methods, materials, and lens technology. These lenses have been helping people see things up close, such as documents, newspapers, and books for centuries. Though it’s been helping human progression for decades, the bifocal has faced a few challenges in our computer-operated world.
Who Created Progressive Lenses?
English-born Owen Aves applied for the first progressive lens patent in 1907, but he never commercialized the concept. It took until Duke Elder created the first progressive lens in 1922 for it to reach commercial success. Though he created it, the first modern progressive lens design is credited to Carl Zeiss and Varilux but was patented in 1953 by Frenchman Bernard Maitenaz.
This lens has been evolving over the years with help from eyeglass makers such as Carl Zeiss AG to reduce distortions and improve usability. These lenses were a huge leap for eyeglass technology because they allow the wearer to see many distances, near, far, and intermediate, all from one pair of glasses. This is crucial in today’s world for looking at laptops, computers, and other digital devices. Since they allow the person to see various distances, they make up for what other lenses, such as bifocals, lack.
Who Invented Sunglasses?
Though sunglasses have been around in multiple forms since the Inuit people of prehistoric times, modern sunglasses were not invented until the 20th century, when Sam Foster began mass-producing his style in 1929. A few years later, Bausch & Lomb set out to create sunglasses for American military pilots, which we still call Aviators today.
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