Aviator sunglasses are a style of sunglasses that were developed by Bausch & Lomb and branded as Ray-Ban. They are characterised by dark, often reflective lenses having an area two or three times the area of the eyeball, and very thin metal frames with double or triple bridge and bayonet earpieces or flexible cable temples that hook behind the ears. The original design featured G-15 tempered glass lenses, i.e., neutral gray, transmitting 20% of incoming light. The large lenses are not flat but slightly convex. The design attempts to cover the entire range of the human eye and prevent as much light as possible from entering the eye from any angle.
Aviator sunglasses, or "pilot's glasses", were originally developed in 1936 by Ray-Ban for pilots to protect their eyes while flying. Aviators were given their name due to their original intention of protecting aviator's eyes. Ray-Ban began selling the glasses to the public a year after they were developed.
The Aviator became a well-known style of sunglasses when General Douglas MacArthur landed on the beach in the Philippines in World War II. Newspaper photographers snapped several pictures of him wearing them. The style was also issued to and found popularity with the French Army.
Aviator sunglasses became fashionable in the 1960s, but their popularity would increase following pop culture references by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Freddie Mercury, and later use by celebrities in films like Top Gun, where Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, and Anthony Edwards sported them (sales of the brand rose 40% in the 7 months following the release of the film). Ray Ban aviators were also prominently featured in the films Cobra starring Sylvester Stallone and To Live and Die in L.A., in which the two main characters are seen wearing them throughout the film. In the 1990s, popularity waned but eventually resurfaced in the early 2000s when comedian daredevil Johnny Knoxville wore them on the MTV series Jackass.
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