Don't you love the new look? And aren't you glad that you have adequate vision to enjoy the fancy fonts and snazzy new title of our blog? Kudos to those who made it all happen.
Carla Stewart here. I’m recovering from cataract surgery, and for the first time since second grade, I have perfect distance vision. It’s almost miraculous to me, but I am grateful that with corrective lenses through the years I’ve been able to live a near-normal existence (minus the fear of deep water and losing my glasses in the depths of the ocean and minor things like that).
Since all I’ve focused on (pun intended) for the past few weeks is vision, I’ve been drawn to learn about the evolution of glasses and what people did who had impaired vision. I was surprised by how long seeing aids have been around. Here’s a quick history (short since eye strain with the computer is still bothersome):
4 BC – 65 AD – Roman tragedian Seneca used a glass globe of water as a magnifier to read “all the books of Rome.”
Middle ages: Monks used glass spheres as magnifying glasses. Most historians credit Italian monks or craftsmen with making the first eyeglasses – two small magnifying glasses set in bone, metal or leather mountings that balanced on the bridge of the nose.
|16th Century Eyeglasses - Wiki Commons|
13th Centurey Venetian glass blowers also produced reading stones of solid glass that were put in hand-held frames made of horn or wood (similar to magnifying lens today).
There is debate over whether the first sunglasses were developed in the Far East or the West. The Chinese used colored glass for adornment and because they believed in its magical powers, but credit for the first use of colored corrective lenses goes to James Ayscough from England in the 18th century. Modern sunglasses as we know them were invented by Sam Foster in 1929, who marketed them commercially (Foster-Grants, anyone?).
|Benjamin Frankin, inventor of bifocals|
In the 1800s eyeglasses were considered evidence of old age and infirmity. Women, in particular, preferred to wear spectacles only when they were needed. Those who could afford it found hand-held designs such as the lorgnette to avoid having glasses on their faces.
|Faberge Lorgnette, Tsaritsno Musueum, courtesy of Wiki Commons|
|Monocle with Gallery, Wiki Commons|
By the end of the 19th Century, more people wore their eyeglasses everyday, and the pince-nez became popular. This inexpensive spectacle was French for "pinch nose," and was imported to America after the 1850s. Pince-nez have no temples, but fit snugly on the bridge of the nose. Their popularity increased when political figures such as U.S. Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge wore them regularly.
Eyewear has come a long ways in two thousand years, and while contact lenses and new technologies have made vision better and better in the last half of the twentieth century, I can’t help but ponder what my life would have been like in the middle ages. Would I have been relegated to stumbling around, bumping into things or even be considered an imbecile because of my vision impairment? Thankfully, I live in modern times and have the latest technology at my fingertips. Now, if I could only remember where I put my readers, I’d have it made.
Do you wear glasses? How has that impacted your life? Leave a comment on this blog to be entered for one of the exciting giveaways that Heroes, Heroines, and History is doing this month to celebrate our new look. See details on the Rafflecopter link below for ways to enter multiple times.
a Rafflecopter giveawayCarla Stewart is the award-winning author of five novels. With a passion for times gone by, it is her desire to take readers back to that warm, familiar place in their hearts called “home.” Her newest release is The Hatmaker's Heart. In New York City’s Jazz Age, a naïve, but talented young hat designer must weigh the cost of success when the rekindled love with her childhood sweetheart is lost and her integrity in the cutthroat fashion world is tested.
Learn more about Carla at www.carlastewart.com