Who Invented Eye Glasses?

May 6, 2022 Published by Leave your thoughts

Eyeglasses have been around for so long that many people have lost track of who invented eyewear. The answer could date back to the late 13th century, when Italy’s Salvino D’Armate might have created the world’s first working example of eyewear.

D’Armate made his eyeglasses using either metal or bone for the frame. He used quartz as lenses due to the poor quality of glass production at the time.

D’Armate presented his invention to an Italian monk named Allesandro della Spina. Spina presented the eyeglasses to the public, and that act caused many to consider Spina to be the person who invented eyewear.

Others suggest the answer to who invented eyewear goes back even further. Ultimately, it might be impossible to determine who invented prescription glasses.

That is especially true considering that vision care and actual eyeglass prescriptions were unheard of even after eyeglasses became available on a very limited basis.

Who Invented Prescription Glasses?

D’Armate might have invented eyewear. But the quality of lenses at the time made it impossible to create actual prescription lenses.

The 14th Century saw advancements in lens-making. Craftsmen in Venice became highly skilled and might have created the first prescription lenses. The thin glass lenses were slightly bulged outward in the middle and helped to correct far-sightedness.

A German named Nicholas of Cusa in the mid-15th Century created lenses that were thinner in the middle and thicker at the ends. It was the first generally effective corrective lens for nearsightedness.

Modern Frames and Bifocals Designed in the 1700s

A couple of centuries after Cusa made the first lenses for shortsightedness, a British optician named Edward Scarlett created the frames commonly used to this day. His were the first frames to fit over the ears and nose.

So the answer to who invented prescription glasses generally is debatable. Many people contributed to the development of prescription eyeglasses, including Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin created the first bifocal lenses. The writer, inventor, and eventual ambassador to France frequently used two different prescriptions while tinkering and writing. So he combined the two lenses into one.

Franklin’s bifocals made it possible to change from farsighted to nearsighted lenses by moving your eyes up or down.  Modern lenses make it nearly impossible for others to notice the difference between bifocals. And they are much better than the originals that Franklin invented.

Progressive Lenses Emerge in the 1900s

Several people and entities contributed to creating progressive lenses during the 20th century. Progressive lenses work similarly to bifocals but provide more of a transition between the two prescriptions.

Wearers can look through particular areas of progressive lenses to adjust their vision. Whether looking far, near, or somewhere in between, the ideal viewing surface is available with progressive lenses.

Clearly, many people have contributed to inventing and improving the first eyeglasses. They remain popular and effective to this day, with more improvements certain to occur.

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