Today wearing glasses is common. Glasses are a fashion accessory, just like jewellery, shoes and handbags. But do you know the history of the evolution of glasses? From their creation in Italy to the popular fashion accessory we know today? Here is a brief review of this exciting journey. Between revolutionary medical invention and style object, this brief history of glasses will surprise you. 

The invention of glasses

It is difficult to put a precise date on the birth of the first glasses. The magnifying power of glass seems to have been understood and used much earlier, yet it was only in the thirteenth century in Italy that the first pair of corrective glasses saw the light of day.

This creation was then only used to correct poor near vision. It developed in the form of spectacles. We speak here about glasses without branches connected by a wood, horn or leather bridge. 

The popularization of eyeglasses accelerated with the birth of the printing press when books were mass distributed. However, it was not until the eighteenth century that one of the greatest developments in eyeglasses occurred over time: the invention of spectacles with temples. They were then called temple glasses and were used to aid in reading.

While the evolution of eyewear frames continued, so did the knowledge of eye diseases. As early as the fifteenth century, eyeglasses were used to correct myopia. On the other hand, it was not until the nineteenth century that spectacle lenses were developed to correct astigmatism. For each visual defect, there is now a type of corrective lenses.

Therefore, the history of eyeglasses is closely linked to the progress made on the lenses themselves.

The rise in popularity of glasses

If monks and the bourgeoisie were the first to benefit from this revolutionary invention, the glasses gradually tended to become more democratic. 

In the nineteenth century, the evolution of materials and industrialization helped propel eyewear to a bigger market. But it was only in the middle of the twentieth century that designers were finally interested in the look of the frames.

Again, the evolution of eyewear over time follows the corrective lenses' development. If the optical lenses were round until the end of the eighteenth century, we gradually discovered the oval lenses of better optical quality. The shape of glasses, as well as the image that we have of them, are then transformed.

Eyeglasses, a fashion accessory in their own right

In the twentieth century, glasses are no longer a simple medical accessory. They are now used to assert a style. The popularization of sunglasses is undoubtedly a factor in this. The success of certain styles from Ray-Ban, Vuarnet, Gucci, Dior, Oakley and Maui Jim have primarily contributed to making modern glasses a real fashion accessory.

The same is valid for eyeglasses. From now on, we choose them according to our morphology, but also and especially, to our personality! Round eyeglasses, tortoiseshell eyeglasses, oversized eyeglasses... to each their style.

The evolution of glasses is continuous. We look forward to seeing what comes next.

Need advice on how to choose your next pair of glasses? Visit your IRIS store.