History of Glasses

The word “lens” comes from the Latin word “lentil,” a species of bean that rather vaguely resembles the shape of a lens. Single pieces of convex-shaped glass or rock crystal have been found in ruins dating back thousands of years. These primitive lenses were used as magnifiers, but it wasn’t until the 13th century that anyone thought of combining them into spectacles. The very earliest spectacle lenses were made of quartz crystal and were given the name “pebble lenses” in the optical trade. Next, hand-blown glass was used until flat sheets of glass replaced them. These sheets of glass were then heated until they softened enough to drop into cavities forming the shape of a lens.

The earliest origin of eyeglasses is a matter of dispute. It is believed that the practice of inserting a “lens” into a frame started during 1214-1294, as described by Roger Bacon. Glaziers in Venice, Italy produced the earliest spectacles. Lenses in these first eyeglasses were produced by gold craftsmen who were experienced in working with rock crystal when producing jewelry. Spectacles did not come into common use until sometime after Guttenberg invented the printing press during the mid-1500s. That event marked the real beginning of the need to correct vision with eyeglasses.

Today, advances in lens material and design provide you with many choices depending on your lifestyle and visual needs. New manufacturing techniques and frame materials provide anyone an appealing and functional option to correct their vision. The difficulty is not a lack of options, but the overwhelming number of choices available to use in designing your glasses. We hope the following information is helpful the next time you purchase eyewear.

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