Did you ever wonder how your sunglasses were once invented? The answer might surprise you!
How were sunglasses invented? It was the Inuit living in prehistoric times that wore the first sunglasses. These were carved from walrus ivory with slits in them, also referred to as ‘snow goggles’ which prevented snow blindness. However, Inuit had no idea that their protective gear would one day turn into a huge, popular industry.
So, the earliest of experiments carried out on sunglasses date back to ancient Rome and China. Legend has it that the Roman emperor Nero watched the fights of the gladiators wearing emerald lenses.
Sunglasses in the 12th century
In the 12th century it was the Chinese who modified the original model of the Inuit. They started using the mineral ‘smokey quartz’ as their lenses. However, their purpose was entirely different from the Inuit. They were worn by judges, who had to decide on people’s fate after an alledged crime. This reinvention of sunglasses had as primary purpose to conceal their facial expressions rather than as a fashion statement or protection from sunlight.
Sunglasses in the 18th century
It was in the 18th century that a man named James Ayscough experimented with blue and green lenses in order to deal with problems related to vision. This English optician
How were sunglasses invented? Fashion in the 20th century
In the early 20th century, shades of yellow and brown color were prescribed to people suffering from syphilis. When a patient suffered from Syphilis, the
Foster Grant and Sunglasses
Foster Grant is credited with making sunglasses popular throughout America in 1929. He was the person who mass produced the first sunglasses and sold them at very affordable rates on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. These products soon gained a huge popularity all over the US. However, Foster’s sunglasses did not have a complete capability of blocking sun rays. His product would soon evolve into what we wear today… in the 60s and 70s.
The revolutionary period in the history of sunglasses
In the 1960s, his company Sam Foster had gained fame among the Hollywood celebrities. Foster’s idea made the Army Air Corps to commission Rochester-based Bausch & Lomb to fashion a lens that would shield the pilots’ eyes from distracting glare. This is how the Ray-Ban came into being.
The company created aviator-style sunglasses made especially for the WWII pilots. They employed the polarized lens technology which was originally developed by Edwin H. Land, co-founder of Polaroid. These sunglasses were capable of blocking out more of the UV rays and hence were the most classical products of that century. They were produced in large numbers and made available to the public owing to their massive popularity. Since then the sunglasses industry has never looked back and many new companies came into existence.
From Prehistoric Inuit to Present
The technological advances in sunglass lenses have enhanced the quality of sunglasses making them more consumer friendly. The anti-reflective, anti-fog coatings, shatter- and scratch-resistant lenses, UV protection are just a few features of sunglasses that are being produced nowadays. The prehistoric Inuit would not have imagined that their snow goggles would pave the way for one of the biggest industries in the world. The industry has matured and is now at a point where people are concerned about sustainability and how they are produced. Some manufacturers and brands, like BEINGBAR, are specifically focused on this aspect. Others focus on only the technical aspects. Many of the well-known brands are primarily focused on design. A clear sign that the Inuits original invention is now a very mature industry.