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The History of Eye Glasses or Spectacles

Eye Glasses were invented in Italy around 1284.


The History of Eye Glasses or Spectacles
Around 1000AD, the first vision aid was invented (inventor unknown) called a reading stone, which was a glass sphere that was laid on top of the material to be read that to magnified the letters.

Around 1284 in Italy, Salvino D'Armate is credited with inventing the first wearable eye glasses. This picture is a reproduction copied from an original pair of eye glasses dating back to the mid-1400's.


Around the year 1752, eyeglass designer James Ayscough introduced his spectacles with double-hinged side pieces. The lenses were made of tinted glass as well as clear. Ayscough felt that white glass created an offensive glaring light, that was bad to the eyes. He advised the use of green and blue glasses. Ayscough glasses were the first sunglass like eyeglasses, but they were not made to shield the eyes from the sun, they corrected for vision problems.

Foster Grants

Sam Foster started the Foster Grant Company in 1919. In 1929, Sam Foster sold the first pair of Foster Grants sunglasses at the Woolworth on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Sunglasses became popular in the 1930s.

Polarizing Sunglass Lenses

Edwin Land invented a cellophane-like polarizing filter patented in 1929. This was the first modern filter to polarize light. Polarizing celluloid became the critical element in creating polarizing sunglass lenses that reduces light glare.

In 1932, Land along with Harvard physics instructor, George Wheelwright III, founded the Land-Wheelwright Laboratories in Boston. By 1936, Land had experimented with numerous types of Polaroid material in sunglasses and other optical devices.

In 1937, Edwin Land founded the Polaroid Corporation and began to use his filters in Polaroid sunglasses, glare-free automobile headlights and stereoscopic (3-D) photography. However, Land is best known for his invention and marketing of instant photography.

Reference Websites

  • History of Eyeglasses
    The oldest known lens was found in the ruins of ancient Nineveh and was made of polished rock crystal, an inch and one-half in diameter. The rest of the history disputes the next listing.
  • Spectacles
    Inventors Bacon, Keppler, Franklin, Airy, and Fick.
  • Bifocals
    Eye glasses that see near and far.

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