This question has most likely crossed your mind before: how did eyeglass lenses come about? They are, after all, a complicated bit of technology that we have developed. They must have taken centuries to develop, and that is an accurate thought.
Eyeglasses have a deep history, dating back to the 13th century. This is when the first lens-shaped piece of glass was developed and was used to magnify small print or other objects. Italian monks were the first to use this technique, and it was proven less than 20 years later to be effective. It wasn’t until over 100 years later when glasses were created specifically to see and read objects from a long distance. Those frames were made of metal, wood, or horn, making them rather uncomfortable for the wearer.
Another 200 years later, glasses that were similar to those we wear today were brought into creation. However, these frames were still highly uncomfortable to wear as they were heavy and often slid around on the wearer’s face from lack of grip on the nose. This is also the same period of time when the monocle developed, and it was commonly reserved for wearing by the wealthy. Those who wore glasses would often be embarrassed by their poor vision, so they would wear the monocle because it was easy for them to put away on short notice.
Around the beginning of the 20th century, glasses as we know them became the standard. The shape and style became more standardized, and the eyeglass lenses were crafted in a more specialized way to ensure an accurate prescription for all wearers. And today, glasses come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors for us to choose from. They have become a fashion statement, rather than a point of shame for wearers. Each frame we have today is unique, and we have come a long way from the first lens!