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Eyeglasses open the door for us to see the world more clearly. It solves the problem of poor vision. The magic that we see through a pair of glasses was impossible some centuries ago. Many experiments took place and the structure evolved in different ways to give us the perfect pair of spectacles we wear today. Eyeglasses are considered the fifth most important invention of humankind. The human race struggled with vision problems for a long time and didn’t have a tool to rescue them. Let us dive deep into how the glasses evolved into a fashion accessory we pair with different outfits today.

The first Pair of Glasses

It was around the 13th Century in Italy when Salvino D’ Armati came up with the idea of the first spectacles. The two magnifying glasses (reading stones) were connected with a hinge that rested on the bridge of the nose. These glasses were set into bone, metal or leather. For a long time, there were no frames to hold the glasses at the back of your ears.

You can see monks wearing these pairs in the famous paintings of Tomasso da Modena. They are reading the manuscripts while donning the prince-nez (pinch-nose) glasses.

The Leather & Horn frames

As the printing press was invented by Gutenberg in 1439, more people were inclined towards reading and writing. The demand for glasses peaked as the readers wanted lenses with frames that could stay on the face without slipping away. The first pair of glasses did not solve this problem.

That’s when Spanish manufacturers came up with the creative idea of incorporating ribbons as frames. On the other hand, German makers attached frames made of leather and horns. Both solutions made glasses more convenient for the wearers.

The First Hint of Modern Glasses

The modern glasses we see today have temples attached to them that help us to tuck them behind our ears. The glasses invented in the 1730s reflected a similarity to the modern ones as the London optician Edward Scarlett made some transformations. He attached durable rods to the lenses to keep them tucked.

With time as the glasses with temples became more popular, skin-friendly material was used in the making of these handles.

Bifocals Changed the Game

The American scientist Benjamin Franklin changed the game with Bifocals. He wanted to solve the problem of using two glasses for both near and distance vision corrections. People who had multiple corrective powers were in desperate need of a solution.

Franklin himself was getting old and had difficulty in both reading and viewing things at a distance. He was tired of switching between two different pairs of glasses. So, he came up with a solution of inserting the distance lens in the top part and the up-close lens at the bottom.

The Round Frames – First of all the Styles

The round frame that has been around since the 13th Century became a more evolved style with comfortable temples and nose pads. The circular shape with either a thick or thin frame gained popularity in 1929 when sunglasses came into the picture.

Sam Fosters began selling them in bulk at affordable prices to beach lovers in New Jersey. Hollywood stars sported them in popular adverts at that time. Soon, everyone became familiar with these glasses.

The Browline Frames – Breaking the Monotony

A new style was introduced in the 1950s to offer glass wearers the flexibility to customise their eyewear. Jack Rohrbach, who is the Vice President of Shuron Ltd. invented the first browline glasses. The shape depicts thickness on the upper side aligning it more with the natural browline.

The top was made of plastic and the lenses were adjusted in a thin wire frame. Wearers had the flexibility to change the brows, wires and bridges and re-style with different colours. The style became so popular that by the end of the decade, it contributed to 50% of eyeglass sales.

Aviators & Cat-Eye Glasses

The aviator sunglasses were invented in the 1930s when pilots were soaring high in the sky and altitudes brought them headaches. The design featured a metal frame, no nose pads and thick lenses. The idea behind the invention of these glasses was to protect the pilots from the harmful rays of the sun.

However, these glasses became popular among the general public in the 1940s. General Douglas MacArthur was photographed during the Second World War wearing aviators and his pictures in the newspapers caught the attention of many,

Cat-eye also made its debut in the 1930s when the American artist Altina Schinasi wanted to come up with a pair of glasses that is attractive to women. This gorgeous shape became more popular in the 1950s when the evergreen star Marilyn Monroe wore the same in her movie.

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