The Beginning of Glasses

That said, glasses are one of the most important objects humans have ever invented since they invented fire and the wheel. To get to its present form, glasses have gone through a long development. From beginning as a "reading store" to transforming into a lifestyle and fashion accessory. 

It is difficult to prove who the original inventor of glasses was. Many point to Benjamin Franklin as its creator. However, the idea of glasses actually dates back about 400 years before the 1700s, when Franklin became active. 

Emperor Nero's Emerald

Objects that functioned as glasses were first known to be used by Emperor Nero of Rome who reigned from 54 to 68 AD. He used emeralds while watching gladiatorial matches. However, it is not known for certain whether that means the emperor does have problems with his eyesight or he is simply avoiding the glare of the sun. 

Glass Ball Cut

The Iraqi scholar and astronomer Ibn al-Haytham (965-1040 AD) is known as a person who engaged in research on light and the mechanism of vision. He studied lenses, experimented with different mirrors: flat, spherical, parabolic, cylindrical, concave and convex. As a result, he found that visual objects seen by refracting light, i.e. passing through thick materials such as water and glass, were larger than their actual size. 

In about 1027, al-Haytham completed his book, Kitab al-Manazir or the Book of Optics. He also suggested that smoothed glass could help someone who suffers from visual impairments. However, the idea was only put into practice many years later. 

Magnifying glass

In the 13th century, the English scholar Roger Bacon (1214-1294) wrote about the magnifying glass. He explains how to enlarge a visual object using a piece of glass ball. He wrote: "for this reason, it is useful for the elderly and people with visual impairments as it allows them to be able to see even the smallest letters."

Some historians of science argue that Bacon got his ideas from Ibn Al-Haytham's book, Kitab al-Manazir. This is because the idea of using a glass ball to see small objects has been known since Ibn Al-Haytham's research experiments. However, according to the available evidence, the idea of using this magnifying glass for reading was first mentioned in Bacon's book. Although there is no evidence that he applied his knowledge. 

Beryl Glasses

Glasses were first known in Europe at the end of the 13th century AD. Paintings began to show them in the mid-14th century AD in the paintings depicted the shape of glasses with two round lenses in a frame connected by a shaft and a metal handle in the shape of "V". There are no handles to stick to the ears like today's glasses. They've used it to read. At the time, lenses were not made of glass, but of the mineral Beryl. 

Examples of these glasses like those worn by Cardinal Hugh of St. Cher in a painting by Tommaso ad Modena in 1352 on a church wall in Treviso. This is the oldest known image representation of glasses to date. 


Lorgette, which are a pair of tiny glasses with handles. Lorgnette comes from the French word lorgner, which means "to glance" or "to watch in secret". The Lorgnette is believed to have been created in 1770 by the Englishman, George Adams I (1709-1772), later illustrated by his son in Essay on Vision (1789 and 1792) where the lorgnette is described as 'a kind of substitute for glasses...'.

Then, these optical aids were the answer for women in the 19th century who needed glasses but didn't want to actually wear them. Until the 17th century, optical aids were mostly used by men. However, lorgnette makes women more interested in the world of glasses. 

This object is also believed to add to the impression of elegance for the upper class. Women wearing lorgnettes became a common sight during the 19th century in theater and opera. Lorgnette appears in another form, namely the lorgnette fan. It was Marie Antoinette, the 18th century French queen who was the initiator of this style. 

Bifocal Glasses

Bifocal glasses are glasses with two parts in the lens. The top is for remote viewing, the bottom is for reading. Benjamin Franklin, an American scientist in 1784 was its creator. These types of glasses are usually prescribed for people suffering from presbyopia, a condition Franklin had at the time. 

Single Lens Glasses (Monocle)

Single-lensed glasses are worn by attaching to the eye sockets of the wearer and are usually hung around the neck with a rope, ribbon, or chain. Many of these glasses were originally framed with metal, tortoiseshell, or horns. 

Monocles were introduced in the 18th century, but gained increasing attention in the 19th century in Europe. It became a common part of rich men's clothing. These glasses are often paired with hats and coats. 

One of the earliest known wearers was the Prussian antiquities enthusiast Philipp Von Stosch who wore monocle in Rome in the 1720s. He wore it to examine the carvings and engraved gems. Originally called eye rings, these glasses soon spread to Austria thanks to an optometrist, JF Voigtlander, who started making them in Vienna around 1814. This fashion quickly became popular in England and Russia. 

Monocles later fell out of favor in much of western Europe and the United States during World War I (1914-18). It was when these glasses were associated with German military officers who were often depicted wearing them. 


Pince-nez glasses cover both eyes. The name comes from the French, pincer meaning "nose". These glasses do pinch the bridge of the nose when installed in front of the eyes. Wearing these glasses is very uncomfortable for some people who do not have the right nose shape. Therefore, these glasses are often hung with a chain around the neck so that users do not have to wear them all day long. Although these glasses have been worn in Europe since the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, they became increasingly popular in 1880 to 1900. Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, the great Russian writer, is one of the most famous wearing glasses of this type. 

Colorful Glasses

In the 1930s sunglasses became popular for the first time. Beginning in 1913 by Sir William Crookes of England who created a lens capable of absorbing ultraviolet and infrared light. In the 1940s, advances in the manufacture of plastics made a wide variety of glasses available in every color of the rainbow. Many women wore pointe-rimmed glasses at the top, which were very popular until the late 1950s. While men tend to use gold wire frames. 

Big Lens Glasses

In the second half of the 20th century, glasses were considered a part of one's attire. Similar to clothes, glasses need to be constantly updated or one can be considered old-fashioned. More and more celebrities are influencing eyewear fashion. For example, in the 1970s, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the first lady of the US in 1961-1963, also helped popularize large lenses. 

Plastic Lenses

Since the 1980s innovations have resulted in high quality plastic lenses. Plastic materials are considered lighter and safer to use than glass.