Little Known Facts.
Abraham Lincoln was farsighted and had a "lazy eye". His first pair of glasses cost about 38 cents!
Oh, those were the days. Eyeglass choices were simple, corrections were basic, and the cost was minimal. Now frame choices are overwhelming, standardized eye testing has become big business, and the overall cost for eyewear is no bargain.
Farsightedness, or hyperopia, and presbyopia, the vision problem that develops with age, were the first eye conditions for which glasses were invented. These armless convex-lensed glasses, called pince-nez, were pinched together to sit on the bridge of the nose.
As early as 700 BC, the Assyrians used polished crystal to magnify objects, and the ancient Romans and Greeks filled glass spheres with water for the same purpose. Inventors noticed that convex shaped glass had the ability to magnify objects, and hence the first simple magnifiers, or reading stones, were born. These early magnifying glasses served as a forerunner to eyeglasses. The first pair of wearable eyeglasses were said to have been invented in Florence, Italy, in 1284. Florence was the leader in the production, innovation and sale of eyeglasses, and during the 15th century the demand for eyeglasses grew in popularity. The procurement of eyeglasses was a sign of intelligence, status, and wealth. The first optical store was established in Philadelphia around 1799 by John McAllister, Sr.
Lenses for nearsightedness, or myopia, weren’t discovered until much later. In 1784, Benjamin Franklin invented the first pair of bifocals, a specially designed frame that held two lens sections together. It was reported that Mr. Franklin suffered from both myopia and presbyopia, and by inventing the bifocal was attempting to avoid the aggravation of switching between pairs of glasses to read or to see objects in the distance. The idea of cementing these two lenses together was not envisioned for another hundred years.
Since then, the technology for eyeglass lenses and frames has improved greatly to correct most vision problems and the demand for comfortable yet more stylish designs grew. Today, eyeglasses are an accessory that not only improves ones vision, but also displays ones personality. What was a tremendous mystery centuries ago is now just an ordinary part of most people’s lives.