The evolution of sunglasses

Article Tags:

Sunglasses have undergone a long history and can be dated back to the 12th century. During the past decades, sunglasses have progressed a lot in terms of functionality and appearance. Most of these achievement or breakthroughs made in the sunwear industry were absolutely unimaginable by those forerunners. A simple example is that prescription sunglasses and photochromic glasses have become great alternatives to traditional sunglasses. Currently, sunglasses are such a popular accessory like hats, gloves, ties and so on. Some people even consider them as a necessity in daily lives. It is true that in early days sunglasses were only exclusively enjoyed by the rich and those celebrities. But the current situation is significantly different.

The very beginning in China

The 12th century in China has witnessed the first occurrence of sunglasses, which were just a crude slab of smoked quartz. Later, this simple design developed into a slab with a roughly shaped frame to hold the quartz. Used by the rich, these primary sunglasses could not only block out sunlight, but also hide emotions during conversation. The latter function particularly benefited judges.

Progression before popular application

In Circa 1400, sunglasses in a darkened version were introduced into Italy by some Chinese people. This was the first progression of sunglasses. Later in the 18th century, sunglasses with vision correction were conceived by James Ayscough. Sunglasses with blue or green tint were believed to correct certain vision problems, rather than solely shield the eyes from bright sunlight.

The film industry triggered sunwear mass production

Sunglasses became popular only until the 1920s, which was contributed by the prevalence of the film industry. At this time, many Hollywood stars and starlets used sunglasses to block out stage light and the blinding flashbulbs of cameras. Promoted by the film industry, mass production of sunglasses occurred.

Military contribution

The development of sunglasses industry has also greatly benefited from the Army Air Corps. The firm Bausch and Lomb was founded to develop effective sunglasses for pilots suffering high altitude glare. Edwin H. Land invented the Polaroid filters in the mid 1930s, which enabled sunglasses to block out UV rays in the sunlight. Only after this period sunglasses were introduced into the public and gained a great popularity.

Functional and aesthetical progression after 1930s

During the decades after the 1930s, sunglasses have been widely accepted and maintained its popularity. The first dimension of progression after that lies in functionality. Traditional sunglasses are only expected to offer proper protection against UV rays and HEV radiation. This is quite simple and had been realized at an early stage. Later improvements or breakthroughs that can be seen now are more significant. The most meaningful contribution is the compatibility between UV protection and vision correction, proved by prescription sunglasses and photochromic glasses.

The other major dimension is the innovations in sunwear style. Various designer sunglasses are now available, offering great fashions and styles. They come in every imaginable shape, size and color. Customers with regular and unusual tastes can all get satisfied with modern sunwear products. In general, the aesthetical progression in sunwear industry does not conflict with the functional dimension. They co-exist quite well.

The evolution of sunglasses