The People Behind Our Favorite Eyewear

The People Behind Our Favorite Eyewear


Who were the brains behind one of the most popular fashion accessories today? Well, there are several documented instances that might answer your mind-boggling question. 

James Ayscough

The first documented instance of sunglasses was in 1752, when James Ayscough experimented with tinted lenses in spectacles.

He was an English optician and designer and maker of scientific instruments. He was apprenticed to an optician named James Mann from 1743 to 1747. James Ayscough became known for his microscopes. His shop was in London between 1740 and 1759. Around the year 1752, James Ayscough introduced spectacles with double-hinged side pieces. Although he made clear lenses, he believed that blue-or green-tinted glass could potentially correct specific vision impairments and therefore recommended them to his patients. At this time, seeking protection from the sun’s rays was not a concern to many. 

          A page from "James Ayscough: A short account of the Eye and nature of vision"

Inuit People

The Inuit are an indigenous people of the Arctic and subarctic regions of North America (parts of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland). The ancestors of the present-day Inuit are culturally related to Iñupiat (northern Alaska), and Yupik (Siberia and western Alaska), and the Aleut who live in the Aleutian Islands of Siberia and Alaska. The Inuit are descendants of what anthropologists call the Thule people, who emerged from western Alaska around 1000 CE. They had split from the related Aleut group about 4000 years ago and from northeastern Siberian migrants. They spread eastwards across the Arctic.

 Two women and a child from the Inuit community 

The earliest known form of eyewear dates back to the 10th century when the Inuit created goggle-like devices out of ivory to reduce glare reflected by the snow.

 An Inuit man displaying his ivory-derived snow goggle

China's Song Dynasty

The first sunglasses as we know them today were invented in China by Emperor Cheng of the Song Dynasty. He created sunglasses with lenses made of smoky quartz that protected the eyes from glare.

Foster Grant, Bausch & Lomb

Modern sunglasses were invented in the 20th century, with Sam Foster selling the first mass-produced shades in 1929. Foster Grant was founded in 1919 by Sam Foster. The company began selling sunglasses on the Atlantic City boardwalk in New Jersey. The first pair of sunglasses sold by Foster Grant was called the “Polaroid” and was made with lenses that could cut out glare without obscuring vision.

In 1929, Sam Foster sold the first pair of Foster Grant sunglasses on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. By 1930, sunglasses were all the rage.

Bausch & Lomb was founded in 1853 by John Bausch and Henry Lomb in Rochester, New York. The company pioneered countless breakthroughs in optical science, from microscopes to photographic lenses to Ray-Ban sunglasses. Ray-Ban was created in 1936 by Bausch & Lomb as a brand under which to design and manufacture sunglasses which incorporated advanced B&L lens technologies. The initial buyer was the U.S. Army Air Corps, but it was Lieutenant John MacCready who had the idea that would change the face of sunglasses.

1968 Ray-Ban Outdoorsman advertisement


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References: WikipediaRay-Ban® Sunglasses Official US Store: up to 50% Off on Select Styles | Ray-Ban® USSunglasses, Reading Glasses, Blue Light Glasses | Foster Grant

1 Comment

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