The History of Sunglasses
Sunglasses? What are they exactly? A metal or plastic frame with tinted lenses? Well, all sunglasses really refer to glasses for the sun. There’s good reason to be wary of that great ball of fire that sits in the sky.The reason is it emits harmful UV rays, which can damage your eyes, and there is all manner of situations where having your vision impaired by the sun can be downright perilous. And here is the surprising thing, sunglasses have been around for pretty much all of recorded history.
Proving this point – as well as showing how sunglasses are just as important in the wintertime – is the fact that ancientInuit peoples wore flatted walrus ivory glasses to protect against the strong glint of the sun on the bright white snowy and icy surfaces which covered the places they lived. This is history’s (or prehistory’s) oldest example of sunglasses, and they’ve haven’t disappeared since.
Olympic Eyewear, a company specializing in wholesale discount sunglasses, say that sunglasses are near necessities in almost all places on Earth. Remember, sunglasses are glasses for the sun – and the sun is everywhere.
Some More Ancient Examples
When tracing the history of sunglasses, we can look to few more ancient examples. The Roman emperor Nero would watch gladiator fights, under the hot Italian sun, through two polished gems, which we could maybe think of as an ancient example of the type of tinted sunglasses that are today valued for their ability to cut out certain harmful or distracting rays of light. The next time you slip on a pair of blue-light cancelling glasses for a spell working in front of a screen, just think of the ancient Romans and their polished gems!
The oldest historical reference to sunglasses dates from ancient China. Moreover, in the 12th century, the Chinese would use sunglasses to go about their daily tasks under the blazing heat of that orb in the sky. These sunglasses were essentially flat plains of smoky quartz, and they served the same purpose as the Inuit’s walrus ivory or Nero’s polished gems. These sunglassesdid nothing about UV rays, but they did protect against glare, something which is still one of the most essential functions of a pair of sunglasses.
Into the Modern World
It was the scientist James Ayscough who began experimenting with tinted lenses in spectacles around the year 1752 – we could say this was the beginning of sunglasses as we know them today. There was an (erroneous) belief than that blue or green tinted lenses could correct certain vision impairments. This was wrong, but Ayscough was creating a device that we would today recognize as a pair of sunglasses.
Fast forward to the start of the last century, and we have the beginning of sunglasses being used as fashion items. Today, we associate sunglasses with Hollywood movie stars, but this association is as old as Hollywood itself. Sunglasses ceased to be purely practical items in 20th century and, when browsing any pictures of the classic Hollywood stars or when watching their films, you will notice that sunglasses were popular right from the start.
It was in 1929 that the mass manufacture of cheap sunglasses began, bringing this incredibly useful and incredibly fashionable item to the wider public. Polarized sunglasses were first developed in the 1930s and they have never dropped in popularity. They look great and they protect your eyes – it is as simple as that.
So, there you have it, sunglasses are one of the few modern mass-produced products which are, in fact, nothing new at all. And the rest, as we know, has been history.