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The History of Sunglasses

Readmikenow enjoys learning the history of many things. The beginning of companies, holidays, events, movies, people, and more interest him.

People wearing sunglasses

People wearing sunglasses

A popular part of everyday eyewear is sunglasses. Many people would struggle to think of a time in the world when there were no sunglasses. There have been examples of ancient types of sunglasses discovered as far back as the prehistoric Inuit period. It has been estimated that it was during the 1000 common era (CE) when the Inuit people emigrated from Alaska to Canada. They are considered the first people to devise a way to protect their eyes from the sun

Inuit Sunglasses

Inuit Sunglasses

1000 Common Era (CE) Canada

The Inuits in this era are believed to be the first humans to make a form of snow goggles. They did this to protect their eyes against snow blindness. Bone, ivory, and driftwood would have narrow slits cut into them They would then be used as front eyepieces. The area that had been cut out was coated with soot or dark powder to decrease the glare and more.

12th Century China

It has been estimated that the first sunglasses were initially invented in China sometime during the 12th century. They consisted of a slab of smoked quartz. It was designed to block out the light from the sun. They did have frames. They were roughly shaped and designed to be held against a person's face. This version of sunglasses were darkened lenses and only made to be used by those who were very rich. They were not designed to correct anyone's vision. They also didn't protect a person’s eyes against harmful UV rays. These sunglasses provided some relief from people having to deal with the brightness of the sun being constantly in their eyes. These sunglasses were often used to hide the emotions of people when speaking to others. They were popular with Chinese judges. These glasses were worn by judges to make it appear as if they were not emotionally involved with a subject that was being discussed. It hid what they were feeling as they questioned those accused of a crime. The Chinese introduced Italy to darkened eyeglasses designed to correct vision. This happened around 1430.

James Ayscough sunglasses

James Ayscough sunglasses

18th Century Sunglasses

Around the year 1752, James Ayscough started performing experiments with tinted lenses in spectacles. Ayscough would use green or blue-tinted lenses as a type of treatment for certain types of vision problems. The tinted glasses used by Ayscough are believed to be the first attempt at creating modern sunglasses.

20 Century Sunglasses

The first sunglasses that began to resemble what is worn today started being popular in the 20th century. They started to be considered fashionable when well-known Hollywood stars would use them. The purpose of these sunglasses was to shield the eyes of the actors and actresses from the bright lights of a movie studio.

Sam Foster

Sam Foster

Foster Grant

Foster Grant of Atlantic City was founded by Sam Foster. He was the first person in the United States to make sunglasses on a mass-production scale. Foster Grant sunglasses were very popular. The first pair of sunglasses from Foster Grant was sold in 1929 at Atlantic, NJ on the Boardwalk. Within a year, Foster Grant sunglasses were being worn by people all over the country.

Bausch & Lomb

The optical firm Bausch & Lomb were contacted during the 1930s by the Army Air Corps. They commissioned the firm to create eyeglasses that would be effective in protecting a pilot's eyes from high-altitude glare. The physicists and opticians of Bausch & Lomb focused their efforts on using a special dark-green tint. It was designed to absorb light in the yellow band of the light spectrum.


Edwin H. Land was the founder of the Polaroid Corporation. He invented Polaroid filters for sunglasses in 1936. These glasses were designed to protect a person's eyes from harmful UV rays. For the first time, this made sunglasses something that was desirable for the health of a person's eyes as well as for comfort and fashion.

World War II aviator sunglasses

World War II aviator sunglasses

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Ray-Ban Aviator Glasses

In 1936, the prototype of aviator sunglasses known as anti-glare was used. They were designed with plastic frames and green lenses. They were effective at cutting out the glare created by the sun and not obscuring vision. This led to the creation of the name “Ray-Ban.” It was a name that described the ability of these glasses to limit the amount of infra-red or ultraviolet rays of light that get to a person's eyes. Impact-resistant lenses were designed and used as part of these sunglasses in 1938 These specific sunglasses were then redesigned to use metal frames in 1939. They were patented as Ray-Ban aviator glasses. The next advance was Kalichrome lenses. They were made to sharpen the details of things viewed through the glasses and minimize the haze. They filtered out blue light. This made them excellent to wear during misty flying conditions.

Benefits Of Wearing Sunglasses

There are many benefits to using sunglasses. It is recommended that when looking for sunglasses people choose ones that block out 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays. This will provide a person's eyes with the best possible protection.

*Glare Protection – When someone is wearing proper sunglasses, it is providing them with protection from the bright glare of the sun. Polarized sunglasses provide more protection from glare than regular tinted sunglasses.

*Helps With Migraines – It is common for people to experience a migraine from the bright light of the sun. Sunlight can result in a person experiencing unnecessary fatigue and eye strain.

*Cancer Risk Reduction – It is possible for a person to get cancer on the skin around their eyes as well as eyelids. Wearing sunglasses outside significantly decreases the chance of a person developing cancer on the skin of their eyes as well as eyelids.

*Safer Driving – When people wear sunglasses as they drive, they'll experience less glare from the sun. This will improve their vision, so they can drive more safely.

*Benefit Children – Children need to wear sunglasses to protect their young eyes. The eyes of a child are still developing. This makes it important for children to regularly wear sunglasses for eye protection when doing any type of activity in the sun.

*UV Protection – This is the most important reason to wear sunglasses. When a person is exposed to UV rays over time, it could result in them developing cataracts and eye growths. Photokeratitis could also develop. This is a sunburn on a person's eyes. This often occurs when individuals spend a significant amount of time around bodies of water and even snow. These are situations where the sun's rays are reflected directly into a person's eyes.

Sunglasses have changed significantly over the years. The history of sunglasses is remarkable as it shows the desire of people to have their eyes protected from the sun. Styles of sunglasses continue to change and adapt to different needs. The most important thing to remember is that most of the sunglasses a person will choose today can provide their eyes with 100 percent UV protection.


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