One of the best things about history is that it explains our present day lives. We were born with dozens of options for sunglasses that cost anywhere from a few bucks, to a few hundred, but how did they become popular? Who first used a glass-like lens to alter their vision? What role did Leonardo Da Vinci and Ben Franklin play in innovating sunglasses? These five milestones demonstrate some key moments that led to the great sunglasses we have available in 2015.
1300: The Chinese Hide Their Faces
The earliest known use of glasses was by wealthy Chinese nobles who would wear lenses of smoked quartz. These didn’t offer sun protection and probably didn’t look too stylish, but they ensured that other nobles could not see their eyes, especially in interrogations and court dealings. Today, people still wear large-lensed shades to hide their eyes for a variety of reasons, but the options for modern shades have way better designs.
1508: Da Vinci Designs Contacts and Sunglasses
Arguably the most prolific genius who ever lived, Da Vinci made sketches that could not be invented for centuries after his time. These included everything from helicopters to calculators, but his advanced knowledge of anatomy also led him to sketch the first wearable sunglasses and contact lenses. Da Vinci was the first to realize that magnifying glasses could be altered for vision correction. Thanks to the revelations of Da Vinci over 500 years ago, lenses can be used to fix imperfect vision, and sunglasses can comfortably fit our faces in the 21st Century.
1784: Ben Franklin Creates Stronger Frames
Along with entrepreneur, diplomat, author, and founding father, Ben Franklin has also earned the title of inventor, partially for creating bifocals. Bifocals are glasses with top and bottom lenses for reading and seeing at a distance respectively. Another aspect of his invention is that it changed the way lenses are built into frames, creating a stronger overall product. Although most of you won't need bifocals anytime soon, we can thank Ben Franklin for creating a better way to fit lenses into frames.
1936: Polaroid and Ray Ban Invent Glare-free Sunnies for Pilots
Around the time that Edwin Land was founding the Polaroid Corporation, WW II was just over the horizon in the early 1930’s. When a major issue concerning fighter pilots was brought to their attention, the innovators at Polaroid and Ray Ban combined their efforts to create a wearable shades that would reduce glare for the pilots. Aviator Sunglasses
were born, creating a rare accessory that perfectly blended function and style.
2012: Nectar Sunglasses Designs Didymium Sunglasses
Have you heard of Didymium
? If not, it’s probably because it’s made of rare Earth minerals and is the stuff welders use to protect their eyes from flames. Nectar took the extremely high-quality of Didymium and applied it to sunglasses, then made 20 stylish varieties of them. These include Icy Green
, and Brown Tortoise
, among others. Didymium shades are ideal for anyone who needs the highest available quality in a pair of sunglasses.
Evolution of Sunglasses
Beginning with Chinese interrogators who would wear smoky lenses to hide their faces, to Ben Franklin applying his genius ideas to invent bifocals and stronger frames, sunglasses are now a common accessory that transcends age, gender, and culture. If you like comfortable shades
that look cool in any occasion, or more wild ones
that will put everyone’s eyes on you
, in 2015 you can find dozens of options for the world’s favorite accessory made by Nectar