Listen to this article
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Spectacles)

Two pairs of modern glasses
Other namesEyeglasses, spectacles
SpecialtyOphthalmology, optometry

Glasses, also known as eyeglasses and spectacles, are vision eyewear with clear or tinted lenses mounted in a frame that holds them in front of a person's eyes, typically utilizing a bridge over the nose and hinged arms, known as temples or temple pieces, that rest over the ears.

Glasses are typically used for vision correction, such as with reading glasses and glasses used for nearsightedness; however, without the specialized lenses, they are sometimes used for cosmetic purposes.

Safety glasses provide eye protection against flying debris for construction workers or lab technicians; these glasses may have protection on the sides of the eyes as well as in the lenses. Some types of safety glasses are used to protect against visible and near-visible light or radiation. Glasses are worn for eye protection in some sports, such as squash.

Glasses wearers may use a strap to prevent the glasses from falling off. Wearers of glasses that are used only part of the time may have the glasses attached to a cord that goes around their neck to prevent the loss and breaking of the glasses. The loss of glasses would be detrimental to those working in these conditions.

Sunglasses allow for better vision in bright daylight and are used to protect one's eyes against damage from excessive levels of ultraviolet light. Typical sunglasses lenses are tinted for protection against bright light or polarized to remove glare; photochromic glasses are blacked out or lightly tinted in dark or indoor conditions, but turn into sunglasses when they come into contact with ultraviolet light. Most over-the-counter sunglasses do not have corrective power in the lenses; however, special prescription sunglasses can be made. People with conditions that have photophobia as a primary symptom (like certain migraine disorders) often wear sunglasses or precision tinted glasses, even indoors and at night.

Specialized glasses may be used for viewing specific visual information, for example, 3D glasses for 3D films (stereoscopy). Sometimes glasses are worn purely for fashion or aesthetic purposes. Even with glasses used for vision correction, a wide range of fashions are available, using plastic, metal, wire, and other materials for frames.


Glasses can be marked or found by their primary function, but also appear in combinations such as prescription sunglasses or safety glasses with enhanced magnification.


A skyline seen through a corrective lens, showing the effect of refraction
Microfiber cloth designed for cleaning corrective lenses without scratching sensitive glass

Corrective lenses are used to correct refractive errors by bending the light entering the eye in order to alleviate the effects of conditions such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hypermetropia) or astigmatism. The ability of one's eyes to accommodate their focus to near and distant focus alters over time. A common condition in people over forty years old is presbyopia, which is caused by the eye's crystalline lens losing elasticity, progressively reducing the ability of the lens to accommodate (i.e. to focus on objects close to the eye). Few people have a pair of eyes that show exactly equal refractive characteristics; one eye may need a "stronger" (i.e. more refracting) lens than the other.

Corrective lenses bring the image back into focus on the retina. They are made to conform to the prescription of an ophthalmologist or optometrist. A lensmeter can be used to verify the specifications of an existing pair of glasses. Corrective eyeglasses can significantly improve the life quality of the wearer. Not only do they enhance the wearer's visual experience, but can also reduce problems that result from eye strain, such as headaches or squinting.

The most common type of corrective lens is "single vision", which has a uniform refractive index. For people with presbyopia and hyperopia, bifocal and trifocal glasses provide two or three different refractive indices, respectively, and progressive lenses have a continuous gradient.[1] Lenses can also be manufactured with high refractive indices, which allow them to be more lightweight and thinner than their counterparts with "low" refractive indices.

Reading glasses provide a separate set of glasses for focusing on close by objects. Reading glasses are available without prescription from drugstores, and offer a cheap, practical solution, though these have a pair of simple lenses of equal power, and so will not correct refraction problems like astigmatism or refractive or prismatic variations between the left and right eye. For the total correction of the individual's sight, glasses complying to a recent ophthalmic prescription are required.

People who need glasses to see often have corrective lens restrictions on their driver's licenses that require them to wear their glasses every time they drive or risk fines or jail time.

Some militaries issue prescription glasses to servicemen and women. These are typically GI glasses. Many state prisons in the United States issue glasses to inmates, often in the form of clear plastic aviators.

Adjustable-focus eyeglasses might be used to replace bifocals or trifocals, or might be used to produce cheaper single-vision glasses (since they do not have to be custom-manufactured for every person).

Pinhole glasses are a type of corrective glasses that do not use a lens. Pinhole glasses do not actually refract the light or change focal length. Instead, they create a diffraction limited system, which has an increased depth of field, similar to using a small aperture in photography. This form of correction has many limitations that prevent it from gaining popularity in everyday use. Pinhole glasses can be made in a DIY fashion by making small holes in a piece of card which is then held in front of the eyes with a strap or cardboard arms.


Safety glasses with side shields

Safety glasses are worn to protect the eyes in various situations. They are made with break-proof plastic lenses to protect the eye from flying debris or other matter. Construction workers, factory workers, machinists and lab technicians are often required to wear safety glasses to shield the eyes from flying debris or hazardous splatters such as blood or chemicals. As of 2017, dentists and surgeons in Canada and other countries are required to wear safety glasses to protect against infection from patients' blood or other body fluids. There are also safety glasses for welding, which are styled like wraparound sunglasses, but with much darker lenses, for use in welding where a full-sized welding helmet is inconvenient or uncomfortable. These are often called "flash goggles" because they provide protection from welding flash. Nylon frames are usually used for protective eyewear for sports because of their lightweight and flexible properties. Unlike most regular glasses, safety glasses often include protection beside the eyes as well as in front of the eyes.


Woman wearing sunglasses

Sunglasses provide more comfort and protection against bright light and often against ultraviolet (UV) light. To properly protect the eyes from the dangers of UV light, sunglasses should have UV-400 blocker to provide good coverage against the entire light spectrum that poses a danger.[2]

Light polarization is an added feature that can be applied to sunglass lenses. Polarization filters are positioned to remove horizontally polarized rays of light, which eliminates glare from horizontal surfaces (allowing wearers to see into water when reflected light would otherwise overwhelm the scene). Polarized sunglasses may present some difficulties for pilots since reflections from water and other structures often used to gauge altitude may be removed. Liquid-crystal displays emit polarized light, making them sometimes difficult to view with polarized sunglasses. Sunglasses may be worn for aesthetic purposes, or simply to hide the eyes. Examples of sunglasses that were popular for these reasons include tea shades and mirrorshades. Many blind people wear nearly opaque glasses to hide their eyes for cosmetic reasons. Many people with light sensitivity conditions wear sunglasses or other tinted glasses to make the light more tolerable.

Sunglasses may also have corrective lenses, which requires a prescription. Clip-on sunglasses or sunglass clips can be attached to another pair of glasses. Some wrap-around sunglasses are large enough to be worn over another pair of glasses. Otherwise, many people opt to wear contact lenses to correct their vision so that standard sunglasses can be used.

Mixed double-frame (Flip glasses)[edit]

Double-frame eyewear with one set of lenses on the moving frame and another pair of lenses on a fixed frame (optional).

The double frame uplifting glasses have one moving frame with one pair of lenses and the basic fixed frame with another pair of lenses (optional), that are connected by four-bar linkage. For example, sun lenses could be easily lifted up and down while mixed with myopia lenses that always stay on. Presbyopia lenses could be also combined and easily removed from the field of view if needed without taking off glasses. These glasses often used for driver when they went through tunnels the upper frame,sunglasses and the second frame with transparent lenses. Drivers flip the sunglasses in tunnels while driving.

3D glasses[edit]

The illusion of three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface can be created by providing each eye with different visual information. 3D glasses create the illusion of three dimensions by filtering a signal containing information for both eyes. The signal, often light reflected off a movie screen or emitted from an electronic display, is filtered so that each eye receives a slightly different image. The filters only work for the type of signal they were designed for.

Anaglyph 3D glasses have a different colored filter for each eye, typically red and blue or red and green. A polarized 3D system on the other hand uses polarized filters. Polarized 3D glasses allow for color 3D, while the red-blue lenses produce an image with distorted coloration. An active shutter 3D system uses electronic shutters. Head-mounted displays can filter the signal electronically and then transmit light directly into the viewer's eyes.

Anaglyph and polarized glasses are distributed to audiences at 3D movies. Polarized and active shutter glasses are used with many home theaters. Head-mounted displays are used by a single person, but the input signal can be shared between multiple units.

Magnification (bioptics)[edit]

Glasses can also provide magnification that is useful for people with vision impairments or specific occupational demands. An example would be bioptics or bioptic telescopes which have small telescopes mounted on, in, or behind their regular lenses. Newer designs use smaller lightweight telescopes, which can be embedded into the corrective glass and improve aesthetic appearance (mini telescopic spectacles). They may take the form of self-contained glasses that resemble goggles or binoculars, or may be attached to existing glasses.

Yellow-tinted computer/gaming glasses[edit]

Yellow-tinted glasses are a type of glasses with a minor yellow tint. They perform a slight color correction, on top of reducing eyestrain from lack of blinking. They may also be considered minor corrective non-prescription glasses.[3] Depending on the company, these computer or gaming glasses can also filter out high energy blue and ultra-violet light from LCD screens, fluorescent lighting, and other sources of light. This allows for reduced eye-strain.[4] These glasses can be ordered as standard or prescription lenses that fit into standard optical frames.[5]

Blue-light blocking glasses[edit]

By the end of the 2010s, eyeglasses that filter out blue light from computers, smartphones and tablets are becoming increasingly popular in response to concerns about problems caused by blue light overexposure.[6][7] The problems claimed range from dry eyes to eye strain, sleep cycle disruption, up to macular degeneration which can cause partial blindness.[6] They may also block out ultraviolet (UV) radiation. However, there is no measurable UV light from computer monitors.[6][8][contradictory] The problem of computer vision syndrome (CVS) can result from focusing the eyes on a screen for long, continuous periods. Many times the glasses do not appear to have much of a tint, or, if any, a slight yellow tint, but they may be more heavily tinted.

Long hours of computer use (not blue light) may cause eye strain.[6][9][7][10] Many eye symptoms caused by computer use will lessen after the usage of the computer is stopped.[6] Decreasing evening screen time and setting devices to night mode will improve sleep.[9][11] Several studies have shown that blue light from computers does not lead to eye diseases, including macular degeneration.[9][12][13] The total amount of light entering the eyes can be adjusted without glasses using the screen brightness settings. Similarly, the blue light can often specifically be adjusted using the "night mode" of different operating systems, which can usually be activated outside of nighttime hours.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) does not recommend special eyewear for computer use,[6][7] although it recommends using prescription glasses measured specifically for computer screen distance (depending on individuals, but possibly 20–26 inches from the face), which are not the same as "blue-light blocking" glasses.[14] The position of the College of Optometrists (UK) is "the best scientific evidence currently available does not support the use of blue-blocking spectacle lenses in the general population to improve visual performance, alleviate the symptoms of eye fatigue or visual discomfort, improve sleep quality or conserve macula health."[15]


Glasses, c. 1920s, with springy cable temples

The ophthalmic frame is the part of a pair of glasses that is designed to hold the lenses in the proper position. Ophthalmic frames come in a variety of styles, sizes, materials, shapes, and colors.[16]


  • pair of eye wires or rims surrounding and holding the lenses in place
  • bridge which connects the two eye wires
  • chassis, the combination of the eye wires and the bridge
  • top bar or brow bar, a bar just above the bridge providing structural support and/or style enhancement (country/Grandpa style). The addition of a top bar makes a pair of glasses aviator eyeglasses
  • pair of brows or caps, plastic or metal caps which fit over the top of the eye wires for style enhancement and to provide additional support for the lenses. The addition of brows makes a pair of glasses browline glasses
  • pair of nose pads that allows a comfortable resting of the eye wires on the nose
  • pair of pad arms connect the nose pads to the eye wires
  • pair of temples (earpieces) on either side of the skull
  • pair of temple tips at the ends of the temples
  • pair of end pieces connect the eye wires via the hinges to the temples
  • pair of frame-front end pieces
  • pair of hinges connect the end pieces to the temples, allowing a swivel movement. Spring-loaded flex hinges are a variant that is equipped with a small spring that affords the temples a greater range of movement and does not limit them to the traditional, 90-degree angle.

Temple types[edit]

  • Skull temples: bend down behind the ears, follow the contour of the skull and rest evenly against the skull
  • Library temples: generally straight and do not bend down behind the ears. Hold the glasses primarily through light pressure against the side of the skull
  • Convertible temples: used either as library or skull temples depending on the bent
  • Riding bow temples: curve around the ear and extend down to the level of the ear lobe. Used mostly on athletic, children's, and industrial safety frames;
  • Comfort cable temples: similar to the riding bow, but made from a springy cable of coiled metal, sometimes inside a plastic or silicone sleeve. The tightness of the curl can be adjusted along its whole length, allowing the back to fit the wearer's ear curve perfectly. Used for physically active wearers, children, and people with high prescriptions (heavy lenses).[17][18] See the image of 1920s frames above.


Plastic and polymer[edit]


Various metals and alloys may be used to make glasses, such as gold, silver, aluminum, beryllium, stainless steel, titanium, monel, and nickel titanium.

Natural material[edit]

Natural materials such as wood, bone, ivory, leather and semi-precious or precious stones may also be used.

Corrective lens shape[edit]

Modern glasses with a rectangular lens shape

Corrective lenses can be produced in many different shapes from a circular lens called a lens blank. Lens blanks are cut to fit the shape of the frame that will hold them. Frame styles vary and fashion trends change over time, resulting in a multitude of lens shapes. For lower power lenses, there are few restrictions, allowing for many trendy and fashionable shapes. Higher power lenses can distort peripheral vision and may become thick and heavy if a large lens shape is used. However, if the lens is too small, it can drastically reduce the field of view.

Bifocal, trifocal, and progressive lenses generally require a taller lens shape to leave room for the different segments while preserving an adequate field of view through each segment. Frames with rounded edges are the most efficient for correcting myopic prescriptions, with perfectly round frames being the most efficient. Before the advent of eyeglasses as a fashion item, when frames were constructed with only functionality in mind, virtually all eyeglasses were either round, oval, panto, rectangular, octagonal, or square. It was not until glasses began to be seen as an accessory that different shapes were introduced to be more aesthetically pleasing than functional.



Detail of a portrait of the Dominican Cardinal and renowned biblical scholar Hugh of Saint-Cher, painted by Tommaso da Modena in 1352.
Portrait of Cardinal Fernando Niño de Guevara by El Greco circa 1600 shows glasses with temples passing over and beyond the ears

Scattered evidence exists for use of visual aid devices in Greek and Roman times, most prominently the use of an emerald by Emperor Nero as mentioned by Pliny the Elder.[20]

The use of a convex lens to form an enlarged/magnified image was most likely described in Ptolemy's Optics (which survives only in a poor Arabic translation). Ptolemy's description of lenses was commented upon and improved by Ibn Sahl (10th century) and most notably by Alhazen (Book of Optics, c. 1021). Latin translations of Ptolemy's Optics and of Alhazen became available in Europe in the 12th century, coinciding with the development of "reading stones".

There are claims that single lens magnifying glasses were being used in China during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).[21][22]

Robert Grosseteste's treatise De iride (On the Rainbow), written between 1220 and 1235, mentions using optics to "read the smallest letters at incredible distances".[23] A few years later in 1262, Roger Bacon is also known to have written on the magnifying properties of lenses.[24][25] The development of the first eyeglasses took place in northern Italy in the second half of the 13th century.[26]

The Persian miniaturist Reza Abbasi wearing glasses, 1673.

Independently of the development of optical lenses, some cultures developed "sunglasses" for eye protection, without any corrective properties.[27] For example, flat panes of smoky quartz were used in 12th-century China, and the Inuit have used snow goggles for eye protection.[a]


The Glasses Apostle by Conrad von Soest (1403)

The earliest recorded comment on the use of lenses for optical purposes was made in 1268 by Roger Bacon.[29]

The first eyeglasses were estimated to have been made in Central Italy, most likely in Pisa, by about 1290: In a sermon delivered on 23 February 1306, the Dominican friar Giordano da Pisa (c. 1255–1311) wrote "It is not yet twenty years since there was found the art of making eyeglasses, which make for good vision ... And it is so short a time that this new art, never before extant, was discovered. ... I saw the one who first discovered and practiced it, and I talked to him."[30]

Giordano's colleague Friar Alessandro della Spina of Pisa (d. 1313) was soon making eyeglasses. The Ancient Chronicle of the Dominican Monastery of St. Catherine in Pisa records: "Eyeglasses, having first been made by someone else, who was unwilling to share them, he [Spina] made them and shared them with everyone with a cheerful and willing heart."[31] Venice quickly became an important center of manufacture, especially due to using the high-quality glass made at Murano.[32] By 1301, there were guild regulations in Venice governing the sale of eyeglasses[33] and a separate guild of Venetian spectacle makers was formed in 1320.[32] In the fourteenth century, they were very common objects: Francesco Petrarca says in one of his letters that, until he was 60, he did not need glasses,[34][35] and Franco Sacchetti mentions them often in his Trecentonovelle.

Seated apostle holding lenses in position for reading. Detail from Death of the Virgin, by the Master of Heiligenkreuz, c. 1400–1430 (Getty Center).
French Empire gilt scissors glasses (with one lens missing), c. 1805

The earliest pictorial evidence for the use of eyeglasses is Tommaso da Modena's 1352 portrait of the cardinal Hugh de Saint-Cher reading in a scriptorium. Another early example would be a depiction of eyeglasses found north of the Alps in an altarpiece of the church of Bad Wildungen, Germany, in 1403. These early glasses had convex lenses that could correct both hyperopia (farsightedness), and the presbyopia that commonly develops as a symptom of aging. Although concave lenses for myopia (near-sightedness) had made their first appearance in the mid-15th century,[32] it was not until 1604 that Johannes Kepler published the first correct explanation as to why convex and concave lenses could correct presbyopia and myopia.[b]

Early frames for glasses consisted of two magnifying glasses riveted together by the handles so that they could grip the nose. These are referred to as "rivet spectacles". The earliest surviving examples were found under the floorboards at Kloster Wienhausen, a convent near Celle in Germany; they have been dated to circa 1400.[38]

The world's first specialist shop for spectacles - what we might regard today as an optician - opened in Strasbourg (then Holy Roman Empire, now France) in 1466.[39]

Other claims[edit]

The 17th-century claim by Francesco Redi that Salvino degli Armati of Florence invented eyeglasses in the 13th century has been exposed as erroneous.[40][41]

Marco Polo is mistakenly claimed to have encountered eyeglasses during his travels in China in the 13th century. However, no such evidence appears in his accounts.[42][43] Indeed, the earliest mentions of eyeglasses in China occur in the 15th century and those Chinese sources state that eyeglasses were imported.[44]

Man wearing glasses on the 16th century Ming dynasty Chinese painting The Bustling and Hustling of Nanjing (zh:南都繁会图)

In 1907, Professor Berthold Laufer speculated, in his history of glasses, that for glasses to be mentioned in the literature of China and Europe at approximately the same time it was probable that they were not invented independently, and after ruling out the Turks, proposed India as a location.[45][c] However, Joseph Needham speculated that the mention of glasses in the Chinese manuscript Laufer used "in part" to credit the prior invention of them in Asia did not exist in older versions of that manuscript, and the reference to them in later versions was added during the Ming dynasty.[46]

In 1971, Rishi Agarwal, in an article in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, states that Vyasatirtha was observed in possession of a pair of glasses in the 1520s, he argues that it "is, therefore, most likely that the use of lenses reached Europe via the Arabs, as did Hindu mathematics and the ophthalmological works of the ancient Hindu surgeon Sushruta",[47] but all dates are given well after the existence of eyeglasses in Italy was established, including significant shipments of eyeglasses from Italy to the Middle East, with one shipment as large as 24,000 glasses,[48] as well as a spectacles dispensary in Strasbourg in 1466.[39]

Later developments[edit]

A portrait of Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas, 1580–1645
Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States, had poor vision.

The American scientist Benjamin Franklin, who had both myopia and presbyopia, invented bifocals. Historians have from time to time produced evidence to suggest that others may have preceded him in the invention; however, a correspondence between George Whatley and John Fenno, editor of The Gazette of the United States, suggested that Franklin had indeed invented bifocals, and perhaps 50 years earlier than had been originally thought.[49] The first lenses for correcting astigmatism were designed by the British astronomer George Airy in 1825.[50]

Over time, the construction of frames for glasses also evolved. Early eyepieces were designed to be either held in place by hand or by exerting pressure on the nose (pince-nez). Girolamo Savonarola suggested that eyepieces could be held in place by a ribbon passed over the wearer's head, this in turn secured by the weight of a hat. The modern style of glasses, held by temples passing over the ears, was developed sometime before 1727, possibly by the British optician Edward Scarlett. These designs were not immediately successful, however, and various styles with attached handles such as "scissors-glasses" and lorgnettes were also fashionable from the second half of the 18th century and into the early 19th century.

In the early 20th century, Moritz von Rohr and Zeiss (with the assistance of H. Boegehold and A. Sonnefeld[51]) developed the Zeiss Punktal spherical point-focus lenses that dominated the eyeglass lens field for many years. In 2008, Joshua Silver designed eyewear with adjustable corrective glasses. They work by using a built-in syringe to pump a silicone solution into a flexible lens.[52]

Despite the popularity of contact lenses and laser corrective eye surgery, glasses remain very common, as their technology has improved. For instance, it is now possible to purchase frames made of special memory metal alloys that return to their correct shape after being bent. Other frames have spring-loaded hinges. Either of these designs offer dramatically better ability to withstand the stresses of daily wear and the occasional accident. Modern frames are also often made from strong, lightweight materials such as titanium alloys, which were not available in earlier times.

In fashion[edit]

Woman wearing eyewear with non-prescription lenses in a fashion photo shoot.

In the 1930s, "spectacles" were described as "medical appliances".[53] Wearing spectacles was sometimes considered socially humiliating. In the 1970s, fashionable glasses started to become available through manufacturers, and governments also recognized the demand for stylized eyewear.[53]

Graham Pullin describes how devices for disability, like glasses, have traditionally been designed to camouflage against the skin and restore ability without being visible.[53] In the past, design for disability has "been less about projecting a positive image as about trying not to project an image at all".[53] Pullin uses the example of spectacles, traditionally categorized as a medical device for "patients", and outlines how they are now described as eyewear: a fashionable accessory.[53] Much like other fashion designs and accessories, eyewear is created by designers, has reputable labels, and comes in collections, by season and designer.[53] In recent years, it has become more common for consumers to purchase eyewear with non-prescription lenses as a fashion accessory.[53]

Society and culture[edit]


The market for spectacles has been characterized as having highly inelastic demand. Advertising restrictions in the United States, for example, have correlated with higher prices, suggesting that adverts make the spectacles market more price-competitive.[54] It has also been claimed to be monopolistically competitive, as in the case of Luxottica.[55][56][57]

There are claims that insufficiently free market competition inflates the prices of frames, which cost an average of $25–$50 U.S. to make, to an average retail price of $300 in the United States. This claim is disputed by some in the industry.[58][59][60]

The United States also prohibits the sale of glasses unless the user has a recent prescription from an optometrist or ophthalmologist, whereas in most of the world, glasses and contact lenses can be bought without needing to get a new eye exam first.[61] This means that Americans who lose or break their glasses may be unable to see well until they can get, and pay for, an appointment with an optometrist.[61] In most of the world, someone who has lost their glasses merely goes to the nearest store selling glasses and buys a replacement over the counter.[61]


Some organizations like Lions Clubs International,[62] Unite For Sight,[63] ReSpectacle,[64] and New Eyes for the Needy provide a way to donate glasses and sunglasses to people on low incomes or no income. Unite For Sight has redistributed more than 200,000 pairs.[65]


Glasses - Decoration, Presi HQ, Budapest

Many people require glasses for the reasons listed above. There are many shapes, colors, and materials that can be used when designing frames and lenses that can be utilized in various combinations. Oftentimes, the selection of a frame is made based on how it will affect the appearance of the wearer. Some people with good natural eyesight like to wear eyeglasses as a style accessory. In Japan, some companies ban women from wearing glasses.[66]

Personal image[edit]

Former United States senator Barry Goldwater in horn-rimmed glasses

For most of their history, eyeglasses were seen as unfashionable, and carried several potentially negative connotations: wearing glasses caused individuals to be stigmatized and stereotyped as pious clergymen, as those in religious vocation were the most likely to be literate and therefore the most likely to need reading glasses, elderly, or physically weak and passive.[67][68] The stigma began to fall away in the U.S. in the early 1900s when the popular Theodore Roosevelt was regularly photographed wearing eyeglasses, and in the 1910s when popular comedian Harold Lloyd wore a pair of horn-rimmed glasses as the "Glasses" character in his films.[67][68]

In the United Kingdom, wearing glasses was characterized in the nineteenth century as "a sure sign of the weakling and the mollycoddle", according to Neville Cardus, writing in 1928.[69] "Tim" Killick was the first professional cricketer to play while wearing glasses "continuously", after his vision deteriorated in 1897. "With their aid he placed himself in the forefront among English professionals of all-round abilities."[69] The American tenor Jan Peerce, plagued with poor eyesight, credited comedian Steve Allen for normalizing and even popularizing the wearing of eyeglasses in front of live television and stage audiences; prior to this, performers who read on early television were expected to squint or use contact lenses.[70]

Since then, eyeglasses have become an acceptable fashion item and often act as a key component in individuals' personal image. Musicians Buddy Holly and John Lennon became synonymous with the styles of eye-glasses they wore to the point that thick, black horn-rimmed glasses are often called "Buddy Holly glasses" and perfectly round metal eyeglass frames called "John Lennon glasses" (or, more recently, "Harry Potter glasses"). British comedic actor Eric Sykes was known in the United Kingdom for wearing thick, square, horn-rimmed glasses, which were in fact a sophisticated hearing aid that alleviated his deafness by allowing him to "hear" vibrations.[71] Some celebrities have become so associated with their eyeglasses that they continued to wear them even after taking other measures against vision problems: U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater and comedian Drew Carey continued to wear non-prescription glasses after being fitted for contacts and getting laser eye surgery, respectively.

Other celebrities have used glasses to differentiate themselves from the characters they play, such as Anne Kirkbride, who wore oversized 1980s-style round horn-rimmed glasses as Deirdre Barlow in the soap opera Coronation Street; and Masaharu Morimoto, who wears glasses to separate his professional persona as a chef from his stage persona as Iron Chef Japanese. In 2012, some NBA players wore lensless glasses with thick plastic frames like horn-rimmed glasses during post-game interviews - geek chic that draws comparisons to actor Jaleel White's infamous styling as TV character Steve Urkel.[72][73]

In superhero fiction, eyeglasses have become a standard component of various heroes' disguises as masks, allowing them to adopt a nondescript demeanor when they are not in their superhero personae: Superman is well known for wearing 1950s-style horn-rimmed glasses as Clark Kent, while Wonder Woman wears either round, Harold Lloyd-style glasses or 1970s-style bug-eye glasses as Diana Prince. An example of the halo effect is seen in the stereotype that those who wear glasses are intelligent. This belief can have positive consequences for people who wear glasses, for example in elections. Studies show that wearing glasses increases politicians' electoral success, at least in Western cultures.[74]


In the 20th century, eyeglasses came to be considered a component of fashion; as such, various different styles have come in and out of popularity. Most are still in regular use, albeit with varying degrees of frequency.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chinese judges wore dark glasses to hide their facial expressions during court proceedings.[28]
  2. ^ In his treatise Ad Vitellionem paralipomena [Emendations (or Supplement) to Witelo] (1604), Kepler explained how eyeglass lenses compensate for the distortions that are caused by presbyopia or myopia, so that the image is once again properly focused on the retina.[36][37]
  3. ^ Laufer, Berthold (1907), Geschichte der Brille (PDF), vol. 6, p. 26, retrieved 29 May 2019 Translation:

    I am interested in the remarks of Prof. J. HIRSCHBERG on the "History of the Invention of Glasses" published in the last issue of this journal (Volume VI, pp. 221–223) and the subsequent discussion by Prof. GÜPPERT. The book by HIRSCHBERG mentioned therein, in which his theory should be presented in detail, has not yet become accessible to me. I, therefore, limit my criticism of it as far as possible and prefer to prove, by means of new material from Chinese literature, that the view of the original invention of spectacles in India is the greatest probability. HIRSCHBERG theory is highly unlikely, as all previous experience has shown and contradicts analogies in cultural history and in the history of inventions in particular; Crystal spectacles appear in the European Middle Ages, in India, and in China, and from the historical point of view one can suppose from the outset that these inventions did not occur independently in each of these three cultural groups, but that a historical connection is here present.


  1. ^ "Eyeglasses - All What You Need to Know", Eyewa Blog, retrieved 24 March 2020binateb
  2. ^ "Sunglasses not just an accessory in the Sunshine State",, 12 March 2018, retrieved 10 April 2018
  3. ^ Loria, Kevin (21 February 2017), "Computer glasses that claim to protect your eyes from screens are selling like crazy, but they probably aren't doing you much good", Business Insider
  4. ^ Heiting, Gary, "Computer Eye Strain: 10 Steps For Relief", All about, retrieved 1 September 2017
  5. ^ "BluTech Lenses – Technology, The story behind BluTech Lenses", BluTech Lenses, archived from the original on 4 May 2015, retrieved 11 May 2015
  6. ^ a b c d e f Vimont, Celia (27 April 2017), Are Computer Glasses Worth It?, Reviewed by Rahul Khurana, MD, American Academy of Ophthalmology, archived from the original on 23 September 2020
  7. ^ a b c "Blue Light Glasses - Helpful or Just Hype?", WebMD Health News, 16 December 2019, archived from the original on 7 August 2020
  8. ^ Duarte, IA; Mde F, Hafner; Malvestiti, AA (2015), "Ultraviolet radiation emitted by lamps, TVs, tablets and computers: are there risks for the population?", An Bras Dermatol, vol. 90, no. 4, pp. 595–7, doi:10.1590/abd1806-4841.20153616, PMC 4560556, PMID 26375236
  9. ^ a b c Porter, Daniel (16 January 2020), Blue Light and Digital Eye Strain, Reviewed by Ninel Z Gregori, MD, American Academy of Ophthalmology, archived from the original on 28 October 2020
  10. ^ Iallonardo, Marisa (24 May 2020), Do blue light glasses work ?, Reviewed by Benjamin Bert, MD, Business Insider
  11. ^ Hazanchuk, Vered (7 May 2019), Should You Use Night Mode to Reduce Blue Light?, Reviewed by Raj K Maturi, MD, American Academy of Ophthalmology, archived from the original on 8 September 2020
  12. ^ Porter, Daniel (15 November 2019), Digital Devices and Your Eyes, Reviewed by Ninel Z Gregori, MD, American Academy of Ophthalmology, archived from the original on 9 August 2020
  13. ^ Caporuscio, Jessica (2 June 2020), "Can blue light glasses prevent damage to eyes?", MedicalNewsToday, Medically reviewed by Ann Marie Griff, O.D, archived from the original on 16 October 2020
  14. ^ Boyd, Kierstan (3 March 2020), Computers, Digital Devices and Eye Strain, Reviewed by James M Huffman, MD, American Academy of Ophthalmology, archived from the original on 3 October 2020
  15. ^ Blue blocking spectacle lenses - The College's position on blue blocking spectacle lenses, archived from the original on 19 September 2020, retrieved 24 October 2020
  16. ^ Optical Course,, retrieved 7 May 2014
  17. ^ Cable Temples, archived from the original on 27 January 2007, retrieved 27 January 2007
  18. ^ "Cable conversion temple covers",
  19. ^ Gwamuri, Jephias; Wittbrodt, Ben T.; Anzalone, Nick C.; Pearce, Joshua M. (2014), "Reversing the Trend of Large Scale and Centralization in Manufacturing: The Case of Distributed Manufacturing of Customizable 3-D-Printable Self-Adjustable Glasses", Challenges in Sustainability, 2 (1): 30–40, doi:10.12924/cis2014.02010030
  20. ^ Pliny the Elder. The Natural History, Book 37, Chpt.16. John Bostock and H. T. Riley, translators. London: Taylor and Francis. 1855
  21. ^ "Opening our eyes to spectacles of the past".
  22. ^ "In the tomb of Liu Jing, the King of Guangling, a gold circle embedded with crystals was unearthed, which was the first glasses in history". 7 April 2022.
  23. ^ Grant, Edward, ed. (1974), A Source Book in Medieval Science, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, p. 389, ISBN 9780674823600 From Grant's English translation of Robert Grosseteste's De Iride (On the rainbow) in Latin, p. 389: "This part [viz, from Aristotle's supposed treatise on optics] of perspective, if perfectly understood, shows us how to make nearby objects appear very small, and how to make a small object placed at a distance appear as large as we wish, so that it would be possible to read minute letters from incredible distances or count sand, seeds, blades of grass, or any minute objects."
  24. ^ Bacon, Roger; Burke, Robert Belle, trans. (1962) The Opus Majus of Roger Bacon (New York: Russell & Russell, Inc.) vol. 2. Part 5, Ch. IV, p. 582. From p. 582: "For we can so shape transparent bodies, and arrange them in such a way with respect to our sight and objects of vision, that the rays will be refracted and bent in any direction we desire, and under any angle, we wish we shall see the object near or at a distance. Thus from an incredible distance we might read the smallest letters and number grains of dust and sand ..."
  25. ^ ...Optics Highlights: II. Spectacles, University of Maryland, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, archived from the original on 23 September 2015, retrieved 1 September 2007
  26. ^ Kriss, Timothy C; Kriss, Vesna Martich (April 1998), "History of the Operating Microscope: From Magnifying Glass to Microneurosurgery", Neurosurgery, 42 (4): 899–907, doi:10.1097/00006123-199804000-00116, PMID 9574655
  27. ^ Ament, Phil (4 December 2006), "Sunglasses History – The Invention of Sunglasses", The Great Idea Finder, Vaunt Design Group, archived from the original on 3 July 2007, retrieved 28 June 2007
  28. ^ Needham 1962, p. 121.
  29. ^ "Eyeglasses | optics", Encyclopedia Britannica, retrieved 18 February 2021
  30. ^ Ilardi 2007, p. 5.
  31. ^ Ilardi 2007, p. 6.
  32. ^ a b c Rasmussen, Seth C. (2008), "Advances in 13th Century Glass Manufacturing and Their Effect on Chemical Progress" (PDF), Bulletin for the History of Chemistry, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 29–34, retrieved 18 October 2021
  33. ^ Ilardi 2007, p. 9.
  34. ^ Petrarch (Franciscus Petrarca) mentions eyeglasses in his Epistola ad Posteros (Letter to Posterity): Petrarca, Francisci (1859), Fracassetti, Joseph (ed.), Epistolae de Rebus Familiaribus et Variae ... (in Latin), vol. 1, Florence, Italy: Felice Le Monnier, pp. 1–2, ... colore vivido inter candidum et subnigrum, vivacibus oculis et visu per longum tempus acerrimo, qui preter spem supra sexagesimum etatis annum me destituit, ut indignanti michi ad ocularium confugiendum esset auxilium.
  35. ^ English translation: Petrarch (1914), Robinson, James Harvey; Rolfe, Henry Winchester (eds.), Petrarch: The First Modern Scholar and Man of Letters (2nd ed.), New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, p. 60, I was possessed of a clear complexion, between light and dark, lively eyes, and for long years a keen vision, which however deserted me, contrary to my hopes, after I reached my sixtieth birthday, and forced me, to my great annoyance, to resort to glasses.
  36. ^ Ilardi 2007, p. 244.
  37. ^ Ronchi, Vasco; Rosen, Edward (1991), Optics: The Science of Vision, Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, pp. 45–46, ISBN 9780486668468
  38. ^ "Rivet spectacles",, The College of Optometrists, 2015, retrieved 28 February 2015
  39. ^ a b Harford, Tim (20 November 2019), "Why do billions of people still not have glasses?", BBC News, retrieved 21 November 2019
  40. ^ Rosen, Edward (1956), "The invention of eyeglasses", Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 11 (2): 13–46 (part 1), 183–218 (part 2), doi:10.1093/jhmas/xi.2.183, PMID 13306950
  41. ^ Ilardi 2007, pp. 13–18.
  42. ^ Needham 1962, p. 119, footnote c.
  43. ^ Hirschberg, Julius (1911), "Geschichte der Augenheilkunde" [History of Ophthalmology], in Graef, Alfred K; Saemisch, Theodor (eds.), Handbuch der gesamten Augenheilkunde [Handbook of all ophthalmology], Handbuch der Augenheilkunde, vol. 13, Leipzig, Germany: Wilhelm Engelmann, pp. 265 ff Section Geschichte der Brillen (History of Eyeglasses) From pp. 266–267 (translated): "3. Do the Europeans have the Chinese to thank for eyeglasses? ... Messrs. Scrini and Fortin in Paris have asserted this recently with the words: 'One knows, on the other hand, that when Marco Polo went to China, he learned that for a very long time already, the inhabitants had been using eyeglasses.' This assertion lacked any substantiation. So I have closely perused the German translation of 'the books of Marco Polo' (2nd ed., Leipzig 1855) once again as well as carefully compared [that book] to the original text (the book of Marco Polo by Pauthier, Paris 1865, 2 volumes): not a syllable about eyeglasses in China is found therein. Our highly esteemed Sinologist, Prof. Graube, had the kindness to peruse also the English edition (by Yule, London 1875), with the same negative result. Thus the sentence of Messrs. Scrini and Fortin is to be crossed out; this error may not be the only one to have infiltrated the literature."
  44. ^ Needham 1962, p. 119.
  45. ^ Laufer, Berthold (1907). "Geschichte der Brille" [History of eyeglasses]. Mitteilungen zur Geschichte der Medizin und der Naturwissenschaften [Communications on the History of Medicine and the Sciences], 6 (4) : 379–385.
  46. ^ Science and Civilization in China Vol 4.1 (PDF), pp. 118–119, archived from the original (PDF) on 23 August 2016, retrieved 3 May 2014
  47. ^ Agarwal, R. K. (1971). "Origin of spectacles in India". The British Journal of Ophthalmology. 55 (2): 128–129. doi:10.1136/bjo.55.2.128. PMC 1208150. PMID 4927695.
  48. ^ Renaissance Vision from Spectacles to Telescopes, Vincent Ilardi, American Philosophical Society 2007 pages 118–125
  49. ^ The 'Inventor' of Bifocals?, The College of Optometrists, archived from the original on 13 June 2011
  50. ^ Bruen, Robert, "Sir George Biddell Airy", The Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge University, Robert Bruen, archived from the original on 25 January 2021, retrieved 1 January 2014
  51. ^ Eyeglass Lenses and Visual Aids from Industrial Production, Zeiss, retrieved 2 September 2007
  52. ^ Whiteman, Honor (12 November 2015), "Self-adjustable eyeglasses: how one man's vision is helping others to see better", Medical News Today, Red Ventures, retrieved 25 October 2021
  53. ^ a b c d e f g Pullin, Graham; et al. (2009), "Fashion Meets Discretion", Design Meets Disability, Cambridge: MIT Press, pp. 13–64, ISBN 9780262162555
  54. ^ Benham, Lee (1972), "The Effects of Advertising on the Price of Eye Glasses", Journal of Law and Economics, 15 (2): 337–52, doi:10.1086/466740, S2CID 154878241
  55. ^ Hutchinson, Dr Emma; Hutchinson, University of Victoria and; Emma (2017), "8.1 Monopoly", Principles of Microeconomics, retrieved 6 May 2021
  56. ^ Swanson, Ana, "Meet the Four-Eyed, Eight-Tentacled Monopoly That is Making Your Glasses So Expensive", Forbes, retrieved 6 May 2021
  57. ^ "Is Luxottica A Monopoly?", Financhill, 19 January 2021, retrieved 6 May 2021
  58. ^ "Does Luxottica Own 80% of the Eyeglass Industry?",, 20 September 2016
  59. ^ "Why are glasses so expensive?", CBS News, 7 October 2012
  60. ^ "Sticker shock: Why are glasses so expensive?", 60 Minutes, CBS News, 7 October 2012, retrieved 19 October 2012
  61. ^ a b c Mounk, Yascha (27 November 2019). "The Great American Eye-Exam Scam". The Atlantic. Retrieved 22 July 2023.
  62. ^ Lions Eyeglasses Recycling Facts, Lions Clubs International, retrieved 20 August 2008
  63. ^ Donate Eyeglasses and Sunglasses, Unite For Sight, archived from the original on 20 August 2008, retrieved 20 August 2008
  64. ^ The world's online database of high quality used glasses, ReSpectacle, retrieved 11 July 2017
  65. ^ "Brick Award Winner: Jennifer Staple", People: do something, HowStuffWorks, 20 February 2007, retrieved 20 August 2008
  66. ^ Steger, Isabelle (7 November 2019), ""It gives a cold impression": Why Japanese companies ban female staff from wearing glasses", Quartz (publication), retrieved 7 November 2019
  67. ^ a b "Understanding Three-Piece Mounting", Eyewear, Seiko, archived from the original on 28 October 2008
  68. ^ a b Lloyd, Annette (1996), The Fashion of Harold Lloyd
  69. ^ a b "The Spin | Tim Killick, the bespectacled rogue who got clattered for 34 in an over", the Guardian, 7 July 2020
  70. ^ Levy, Alan (1976). The Bluebird of Happiness: The Memoirs of Jan Peerce. Harper & Row. pp. 283. ISBN 0-06-013311-2.
  71. ^ Sykes, Eric (31 December 2004), "Comedy Great", News, BBC
  72. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Whacky NBA Playoff Fashion!", YouTube, retrieved 26 June 2012
  73. ^ Cacciola, Scott (14 June 2012), "NBA Finals: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Other Fashion Plates of the NBA Make Specs of Themselves", The Wall Street Journal (online ed.), retrieved 26 June 2012
  74. ^ Fleischmann, Alexandra; Lammers, Joris; Stoker, Janka I.; Garretsen, Harry (10 December 2018), "You Can Leave Your Glasses on", Social Psychology, 50 (1): 38–52, doi:10.1027/1864-9335/a000359, S2CID 150204262

General bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

Listen to this article (25 minutes)
Spoken Wikipedia icon
This audio file was created from a revision of this article dated 31 March 2008 (2008-03-31), and does not reflect subsequent edits.