Eyeglasses, spectacles, glasses, specs, lenses, or whatever else you call your eye-wear – its undeniable that there are certainly plenty of names for our glasses! But, what do we know about them? Yes, they help us to see things more clearly. What else? Join me as I go through the lense and take a peek at the history, dramas, and wonders of our spectacles! Here are 43 facts about glasses for you to uncover.
Fact 1: Glasses are also known as ‘eyeglasses’, spectacles’, and sometimes ‘specs’ for short. They all basically mean the same thing, but the name changes across continents!
Fact 2: This might be a little obvious, but glasses are there to aid vision. You don’t have to have super-bad eyesight to wear glasses, in fact, you can just have a small vision problem that needs to be corrected!
Fact 3: Although there’s nothing major to suggest this, some believe that glasses, or some variation of them, were actually around during Ancient Greek and Roman times. However, I’ve not seen Poseidon or Athena with a splendid pair of specs on, so it’s up to you whether you believe this one or not!
Fact 4: Some of the very first ‘spectacles’ were known as ‘reading stones’. They didn’t look like glasses and were actually sphere-shaped glass objects that would magnify writing for people to read. Think of it like this, you place a magnifying glass over a page of writing and everything gets bigger and easier to read.
Fact 5: A reference to a ‘convex lense’ was noted in Ptolemy’s ‘Optics’. A ‘convex lens’ disperses light by using a process known as refraction.
Fact 6: Generally, eyeglasses’ lenses are made from glass or hard plastic, which is then mounted in a frame.
Fact 7: Plastic, polymer, metals (silver, steel, titanium), wood, and semi-precious stones, are just some of the materials that are used to make glasses. Obviously, the more precious the material the more expensive the glasses will be! A lot of people purchase glasses that suit them and their personality, so the material does come down to personal preference a lot of the time.
Fact 8: ‘Reading’ glasses are used for focusing on objects (text) that are closer up to the individual.
Fact 9: ‘Safety’ glasses are for eye protection, as the name suggests. These glasses are generally made from break proof plastic lenses. They tend to be used in industries like engineering, development, and on production lines. Although, in 2017 dentists and surgeons in Canada, and other countries, were required to wear safety glasses at work too. Not to go into too much detail but you wouldn’t want someone’s saliva or blood spitting into your eye! EWW!
Fact 10: The stigma of wearing spectacles started to dwindle in America after President Theodore Roosevelt was pictured wearing his glasses a number of times. Spectacles started to become quite a popular accessory afterwards, because the attitude ‘if it’s good enough for the President, it’s good enough for all’ is likely to have come into play!
Fact 11: Robert Grosseteste noted the use of optics in ‘De iride’ which was written around 1220-1235. Optics were mentioned in the context that small letters had to be read out from a long distance away, and so a vision aid was required.
Fact 12: The ‘monocle’ is basically a single lense that is worn in 1 eye to correct poor vision. It works like a normal pair of glasses, but it only corrects the vision of 1 eye… Hmm, perhaps it looks cool, but it’s probably not that practical! Not to mention, it could seriously put you off balance seeing things so differently with both eyes!
Fact 13: Bioptic glasses magnify objects that can be seen far away, they act like little telescopes.
Fact 14: It is thought that eyeglasses were first created in Northern Italy in the 13th century.
Fact 15: ‘Sports’ glasses are another type of spectacle. These spectacles are typically worn for during sport like squash, and again are there to protect the eyes, as well as aiding vision.
Fact 16: Smoky-quartz was used in 12 century China as a form of sunglasses. This sounds pretty neat, but they don’t look anything like our sunny-day specs of today!
Fact 17: Some of the world’s most expensive glasses according to Vision Web are:
- Philippe Chevallier (1970) $6,000
- Ray Ban RB2157K Super Limited $6,800
- Mykita Rad Hourani Black Sunglasses $7,500
- Chrsitain Dior Glossy Gold 500 Sunglasses $7,950
- Elvis-Presleys-sunglasses $22,000
- Bentley Sunglasses $50,000
- Cartier Panthere $159,000
- Emerald Sunglasses $200,000
- Chopar Sunglasses $400,000
Fact 18: ‘Goggles’ are glasses that aid you while swimming. You can purchase goggles in lots of different shops, and these are standard vision ones. However, for the keen swimmer, it is possible to purchase prescription based goggles, so that you can actually see clearly in the water.
Fact 19: On the note of goggles, in the UK, sometimes people refer to actual glasses as ‘goggles’. This term is of course slang, and it’s not likely to make sense in any other part of the world.
Fact 20: Clark Kent is likely to be one of the most famous glasses wearers of our time! As you might know, Kent uses his glasses to hide his alter-ego: Superman! Interestingly, you don’t see Superman wearing glasses at all, and he’s got nigh on perfect vision too! Plus, those lasers beam out of his eyes as well!
Fact 21: One of the earliest pictures of someone using glasses is from about 1352. It is a portrait of Cardinal Hugh de Provence reading.
Fact 22: According to the Vision Council of America about 75% of adults in the US alone need some sort of vision correction. This can be anything from prescription glasses, contact lenses, laser eye surgery, and purchasing over-the-counter glasses. Of course, this does not account for those members of society who refuse to get their eyes looked at, and refuse any sort of help!
Fact 23: Typical glasses have 2 lenses held in place by a rim that is set in a frame. There are generally two arms extending outwards to sit on the top of the ear. You do get variations on the shape of glasses, for example, a double bridge going across the nose.
Fact 24: In the 1930s specs were described as ‘medical appliances’. Today, they are seen as a ‘fashion accessory’.
Fact 25: Contact lenses can be worn to replace glasses. Generally, the same prescription is applied to both glasses and contact lenses. Contact lenses are worn daily around the world, and are just an alternative to eyeglasses. You can swap back and forth between specs and contacts if you want to!
Fact 26: ‘Scissor glasses’ are glasses that have been mounted onto a ‘Y’ shaped frame. They were popular with the French and Germans in the 18th century.
Fact 27: Sunglasses are there to protect the eyes from ultraviolet light. To be effective a UV-400 blocker must be present in the lenses, otherwise wearing the sunglasses would be of no benefit.
Fact 28: Wearing glasses was not seen as a good thing years ago! In fact, a lot of people were bullied, called names, and traumatized by people for wearing eyeglasses.
Fact 29: According to the Vision Council of America, of the 75% of people in the US who need some sort of vision correction aids, 64% of these people prefer wearing glasses, and 11% like to wear contact lenses.
Fact 30: ‘3D’ glasses are made for 3D films. Basically, when you put the glasses on the information coming from the screen (light) is filtered differently when it goes to the eye, hence the 3D image.
Fact 31: ‘Computer’ lenses are used to block blue light entering your eyes. Blue light is known for keeping people awake at night. The lights are filtered out by a yellow tint on the eyeglasses’ lense. These are helpful for people who don’t blink when playing games or for those who are on the computer for long periods of time.
Fact 32: ‘Lorgnette’ spectacles were basically 2 lenses stuck in a frame with a little handle on one side, which you would use to hold the lenses up to your eyes. They were popular during the 19th century, and were designed to fit into your top pocket. They have since been used as props on stage.
Fact 33: In the United States of America, more women than men wear contact lenses.
Fact 34: In the 1970s people started to recognise the importance of wearing stylish glasses, not only because it was cool, but because it was one way of limiting the unprovoked attacks on those who wore glasses all the time. You can thank the likes of Elton John for bringing true stylish glasses to the table!
Fact 35: Ophthalmology is the study of the eye. An optometrist is someone you would go and see at an opticians to get your eye check up.
Fact 36: Some work places in Japan stated in 2019 that women should be mindful and not wear glasses at work. Apparently, it sometimes gave customers a ‘cold impression’ of the female workers. This caused a lot of backlash as you can imagine, and it became a massive trend on Twitter!
Fact 37: You can buy ‘memory metal’ glasses that return to their correct shape if they are bent out of shape! Pretty good for those of you who just throw your glasses in your pocket.
Fact 38: In the US you can pay anywhere between $50-$1,000 for a pair of eyeglasses! The average is about $196 for a single pair of glasses.
Fact 39: ‘Bifocal’ glasses were the creation of Benjamin Franklin, he suffered from near-sightendess and aging issues of the eye, hence he created something that would help him.
Fact 40: According to the Vision Council of America, about 85% of the US’s population wear sunglasses.
Fact 41: You can get ‘mixed-double frame’ glasses, which are basically 2 pairs of glasses in 1. Pretty neat!
Fact 42: Edward Scarlett potentially designed the glasses shape that we know today in 1727, but they were not popularized until 2 centuries later.
Fact 43: Prof Joshua Silver was paramount in the development of adjustable corrective eyeglasses in 2008.