Who Invented Eyeglasses?
Today, more and more people wear eyeglasses. They are more accessible than ever, with a wide range of styles, lenses, and price points available for individuals needing a pair of specs. This can make it easy to take eyeglasses for granted, but there actually quite a rich history behind this incredible invention. Eyewear took a long time to evolve into the glasses that we commonly use today, and there are several individuals that we can thank for it.
The early creators of eyeglasses
The process of creating and developing any invention takes time. It took several hundred years for early eyeglasses to become the spectacles we are accustomed to today. Given this, it makes sense that no single person gets full credit for the invention of eyeglasses.
The creation of eyewear is often attributed to Alhazen, an Arabian mathematician who laid the foundation for physiological optics. His work earned him the moniker “The Father of Modern Optics.” Other famous inventors that have advanced eyewear in history include English Franciscan Friar Roger Bacon, who detailed the scientific principles of corrective lenses in the 1200s. Later on, Salvino D’Armati from Italy is also often credited for creating the first wearable pair of eyeglasses in the 13th century.
When eyeglasses were invented?
In the same way that no one person is responsible for the creation of eyeglasses, there is also no exact date for the invention of this valuable accessory.
Some historians believe that the earliest eyeglasses were produced in northern Italy between 1000 and 1250 A.D., thanks to technology for grinding simple magnifying glasses. Glasses also appeared in a 1352 Treviso Cathedral fresco painted by Tommaso de Medona.
The 14th century is considered the turning point for eyeglasses, particularly in Italy. It was right around this time when the printing press was invented by Johann Gutenberg in 1452, which opened up reading to the general public. It increased the need for eyeglasses, which led to the mass production of affordable spectacles. There was an even greater demand for eyeglasses in 1665 when The London Gazette was founded and started producing newspapers.
Many other dates have been thrown around regarding the invention of eyeglasses. However, it wasn’t until the 18th century that the modern eyeglasses that we have come to know and use today started to take shape.
The invention of modern eyeglasses
For some people, the American inventor Benjamin Franklin may come to mind when thinking of prominent figures responsible for the creation of eyeglasses. Glasses were already around for a few hundred years before Franklin was alive, but thanks to him, we have bifocal lenses, which are eyeglasses that allow the wearer to see up close and farther distances.
Until the 18th century, eyeglasses had to be held up to the eyes to be used as they were not fitted to sit on the face. The modern eyeglasses frames that many of us wear today were designed by British optician Edward Scarlett in 1727, who made it so that glasses could be placed over the ears and the nose. Lenses that corrected astigmatism were later invented in the 1800s by Sir George Biddle Airy, an English mathematician and astronomer.
The Bottom Line
The invention of eyeglasses has a complex history. It may seem like a simple invention, but eyewear took centuries to get right, and we have many inventors to thank for the spectacles that allow us to see today.