A brief history of eyeglasses and how their styles have changed through the years is an interesting - though sometimes blurry - look at times gone past.
The first efforts to correct blurry vision were especially crude; think a large glass bowl filled with water. The first magnifying glass, invented in Venice around 1000 C.E., was the true start to corrected vision. These “reading stones” became friends of aging monks and medieval detectives.
Early Eye Glass Inventions
The first pair glasses were simply two magnifying glasses connected by a hinge and balanced on the nose, invented in Italy somewhere between 1285-1289. Early versions of glasses would also sometimes be held up by a handle.
During the next couple centuries, eyeglasses continued to rise in popularity and demand.
Advancements and BreakthroughsA large breakthrough came in the 1500's when crafters fashioned a concave lens to correct the vision of the nearsighted Pope. Now lenses could cure both nearsighted and farsighted problems.
In the 1700's, the idea emerged to anchor eyeglasses to the ears so they would stay in place. The late 1700's also brought the invention of bifocals, though it wasn’t until the 1800's that glasses evolved to correct astigmatism. Monocles and trifocals followed in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
The multitude of styles on the market today proves the diversity and popularity of eyeglasses. While traditionally the best frames were made in Germany and the best lenses made in Italy, manufacturers from all over the world now understand how to produce high-quality glasses.
We can use eyeglasses to correct almost every vision problem. Understanding the history of eyeglasses and how they have changed over time helps us to appreciate how far we have come.