Readingglasses refers to magnification gadgets that humans wear in front ofeyes with the objective of correcting abnormal eyesight. The earliestinvention records date back to first century AD. According to Rome’sEmperor Nero’s instructor, Seneca the Younger, humans were fillingtransparent glass jars with water and using them for magnificationpurposes. However, he claimed that Nero had a variety of specializedmagnification glasses that he used to watch gladiatorial games andreading letters. Traditional glasses lenses were crude objects withweak vision correction (Lutemaker 1982, p. 14). Besides, they werecumbersome and tedious since one had to support them in front of theeyes using their hands. Historians claim that an unknown Italianinventor developed the first pair of typical eyeglasses thatresembles modern spectacles in 1286 AD. The inventor was unknown ashe was unwilling to share his discovery with other people (Lutemaker1982, p. 24). In fact, reading glasses were only popularize by aDominican Friar, Giordano da Pisa, as he manufactured severaleyeglasses and distributed them. The spectacles featured two piecesof eye lenses attached to a piece of metal such as the ones ApostleConrad is wearing in figure one below. Although there is no adequateevidence regarding the original inventor of reading glasses, China,India and Europe are the earliest places where the tools were widelyused (Lutemaker 1982, p. 33). Judging from the long history ofreading glasses, no particular person deserves recognition as theoriginator of spectacles technology since several developers havecontributed substantially to eyeglasses improvement. The objective ofthis essay is analyzing the development of the rimmed reading glassesinto contact glasses lenses and the benefits that users have gained.

ApostleConrad in 1403 (Medievalists 2013, p.1).

Contemporaryreading glasses lenses have progressed in a variety of ways, whichinclude structure, design, relevance, purpose, color and shape.Tommaso da Modena’s 1352 portrait illustrated Cardinal Hugh readinga scriptorium using spectacles that closely resembles the pairApostle Conrad used, but he used his nose pressure to hold his pairof glasses in place. Archaeologists found a pair of reading glassesin 1403 at Northern Alps. The spectacles were located on analtarpiece of the church in Bad Wildungen, Germany (Segrave 2011, p.38). The essential thing with the retrieved pair of eyeglasses isthat it had convex lenses that could correct presbyopia andfarsightedness (hyperopia) conditions that were associated with oldage. Besides, it resembled the reading glasses illustrated in Tomasoand Conrad’s portraits. In my opinion, this could imply that theeyeglasses lenses used as early as 1200 AD had efficient capabilityto correct eyesight (Segrave 2011, p. 39).

Milestonesof reading glasses innovation

In1720s, Girolamo Savonarola designed a string that persons wearingreading eyeglasses could use to secure spectacles in front of theireyes. The string passed behind a wearer’s head, and then a hatweight secured it. Edward Scarlett (a British optician) improved thestring attachment into the contemporary frames that are securedbehind the earlobes in mid-1720s. In my view, introduction of templestructures made wearing eyeglasses very comfortable compared to thecrude spectacles that monks and other scholars studying ancientmanuscripts were using in 1200s A.D. However, I also believe thateyeglasses developers must have begun looking for alternatives tomake the spectacles lighter so that an individual could wear them forextended time without feeling fatigued (Lutemaker 1982, p. 14).

BenjaminFranklin’s 1784 bifocal lenses also made substantial contributionto the reading glasses innovation. He suffered from both presbyopiaand myopia thus, circumstances motivated him to create a bifocallens that could address both problems instead of exchanging themyopia and presbyopia reading glasses lenses regularly. Franklin’sbifocals contained temple frames, which made them comfortable andconvenient to wear (Rosenthal 1995, p. 78). However, the glassesnever gained popularity, as they were mainly associated with elderlypersons. Women, in particular, preferred the previous scissor designeyeglasses, as they did not have to wear them throughout. Besides,improved versions of scissors reading glasses lenses couldeffectively assist individuals to focus on close and distance objects(Rosenthal 1995, p. 100).

SirGeorge Biddell Airy successfully modified reading glasses lenses withcapability to repair astigmatism in 1827. Just like Franklin, he gotthe inspiration to develop refractive lenses because he also sufferedfrom the condition. Airy’s eyeglasses lenses became famous becausemany people with similar eyesight problem were determined to controlthe problem so that they could watch the newly discovered baseballgame. The discovery of eyeglasses with capability to correctastigmatism was necessary because individuals suffering from thecondition had no alternative means for addressing the problem(Sundbo 1998, p. 60).

Between1900 and 1920, the eye industry became an autonomous industry.Several people began wearing spectacles every time. In my view,introduction of new manufacturing materials such as plastic made thespectacles cheaper and the designs more flexible. This impliesseveral people could afford the eyeglasses lenses. An example of thefamous versions of the glasses included the French “pince-nez” or&quotpinch nose&quot (Sundbo 1998, p. 81). The brand was firstmanufactured in 1940s in France, and then importation to the USAbegun in 1950s. An additional reason that increased popularity ofeyeglasses lenses in early 1900s was that several celebrities worethe lenses, as well as US presidents Calvin Coolidge and TeddyRoosevelt. Fans of these politicians and celebrities purchased thecheaper models of eyeglasses lenses in order to match the top trendback then (Sundbo 1998, p. 88).

England’sSir William Crookes invented colored lenses in 1913. However, thetechnology remained unpopular until 1930s when Crookes designedeyeglasses lenses that could absorb infrared and ultraviolet light.The improved shade lenses were designed for military pilots in WorldWar II (Davidson &amp MacGregor, 2002, p. 68). They helped pilots tohave a clear vision of the earth’s surface when on war missions asthe eyeglasses could absorb the sun’s glare that both reduced theirvisibility, as well as caused eye damage. By 1940s, reading glassescame with a layer of anti-refractive coating that blocked UV raysfrom reaching the wearer’s eye. In addition, the lenses werephotosensitive of photochromic thus, it darkens when exposed tobright light and lightens up when in a dark environment. Thecharacteristics made the lenses suitable to drivers as they couldminimize glare of approaching vehicles and UV rays. Presently, manydevelopers are making multifocal progressive lenses. The technologyis imperative as an individual can focus on objects at both close andfar distance conveniently (Davidson &amp MacGregor, 2002, p. 70).

Moderndrivers can choose from a wide range of polarized eyeglasses designedfor reducing glare when driving. The lenses are available in a widevariety of colors such as green, neutral grey, amber and brown. Greylenses are suitable in a bright environment because they does notfalsify original colors. However, brown color offers the highestefficiency for absorbing the sun’s glare. Yellow tinted sunglassesmakes images sharp, but they are unsuitable for driving because theyenhances color distortion (Sundbo 1998, p. 78).

In1990s, thin eyeglasses are popular. Thin eyeglasses have facilitatedthe development of the soft lenses technology, which is a correctiveglasses placed on the eye surface. In addition, thin glass lenses aremore aesthetic than the outdated thick versions. Prior to thedevelopment of thin glasses lenses, individuals involved in physicalduties such as football sports had to retire if they developedeyesight problems. Framed eyeglasses are delicate and vulnerable tobreakage when one is involved in sports such as football. Thisexplains the reason thin eyeglasses have gained high popularity inthe recent past (Davidson &amp MacGregor, 2002, p. 46).

JoshuaSilver attained the greatest achievement so far in reading glasseslenses. He designed the self-adjustable AdSpecs eyewear in 2008. Theinvention is trendy because the eyeglasses are adjustable such thatan individual can moderate the adjustability to suit their needs. Theprocess of adjusting the lenses in order to suit personalrequirements is called “self-refraction”. On the side of theeyeglasses’ frames is a syringe containing silicone oil. A patientuses the syringe to pump either more or less silicone in the middleof the eyeglasses in order to alter their shape. Once a user attainsthe desired visual clarity, he or she tightens the side screw tosustain the clarity. The invention is essential as a single pair ofeyeglasses can serve a patient effectively in different environmentssuch as in pitch-darkness, as well as in regions with bright light(Sundbo 1998, p. 51).

Readingglasses development philosophies

Trott(2008, p. 14) asserts that reading glasses lenses have over timebecome popular among many people. He uses the diffusion theory toprove that their role models motivate many persons wearing readingglasses while others have vision problem. Irrespective of theunderlying reason that motivates people to wear eyeglasses, a fewpeople with influence to the society has made wearing eyeglassestrendy such that everyone wants to wear them. Furthermore, Trottsuggests that the industrial economic growth theory has enhanced thepopularity of the reading glasses lenses. He contends thateyeglasses’ manufacturers are motivated to produce large suppliesof the product when they are assured of a stable market for theirsupplies (Trott 2008, p. 17).

Globalizationhas yielded international trade theory, which primarily concernseconomic integration. Globalization has created an enormous marketfor eyeglasses lenses hence, the developers are motivated to createa wide variety of reading glasses to suit the diversified market andincrease their profit level (Kotler &amp Kotler 2012, p. 59).

Finally,evolutionary innovation theory claims that have developed sincehumans’ preferences and tastes keep changing. I agree with thistheory because smaller design glasses lenses became trendier from1995. In 1990s, music and sports’ celebrities began using softtherapeutic lenses, but their followers created a huge demand foraesthetic lenses that would assist them resemble their icons. Thisassertion is true since many people purchase cosmetic eyeglasseslenses designed like reading glasses in order to look like the famouspeople (Kotler &amp Kotler 2012, p. 58).


Inconclusion, reading eyeglasses lenses is an old technology that hasdeveloped over several years. Various factors ranging fromglobalization and a new craze for fashionable contact lenses tosatisfy fashion trends has enhanced demand for the eyeglasses, whichin turn has motivated developers to create diverse eyeglasses wear tomeet the demand. In fact, over 100 million people currently usereading eyeglasses worldwide, and the number is expected to reach onebillion people by 2020.


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