A Chronological Archive of Sunglasses

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In the 1100s, only the privileged classes in China could afford the eye-piece that later came to be known as sunglasses. Wish to know another juicy little tidbit about sunglasses? Judges in the ancient courts of China used these particular eye-pieces, crafted out of naught by rough smoked slices of ordinary quartz, to camouflage the appearances on their visage to hide the verdict regarding those brought before the law before verbally announcing them for all to hear. The Chinese used these eye-pieces as armors to their souls.

Snow Goggles

Indigenous folk, such as the Inuits and the Yupiks, used these eye-pieces designed from spruce ferns, ivory, and antler cartilages to shield themselves from ‘photokeratitis,’ commonly known as ‘snow blindness,’ a rather severe disease of the eye.

Lorgnettes made out of emeralds

Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus enjoyed viewing battles between Roman swordsmen from his lofty position in the stands using these forerunners of sunglasses.

Eye-pieces in France

Emperor Louis the Fourteen, also known as ‘le Roi Soleil,’ viewed a total Solar Eclipse in 1706 through an eye piece made out of a smoked slice of filtered glassy material.

Eye-pieces in Venice

Venetian glass designed out of soda-lime was perfect for guarding the eyes against the flicker of sun rays on the rippling waters in the canals in Venice. These forerunners of sunglasses were termed ‘gondola glasses’ by women and their little ones.

18th Century Eye-pieces

Cyan-hued lenses were used by James Ayscough in the year 1752 in order to rectify amblyopia. However, the tinted glasses (usually blue or green) used by him were not suited to protect the eyes from the ultraviolet rays of the sun.

In 1772, Antoine Lavoisier studied combustion using an extended source of light, that is, expanded rays of the sun. While working on his tests, he used the first-ever amber and brown-tinged eye-pieces that were visually similar to the ones worn today.

19th Century Eye-pieces

Jean-Marie-Theodore Fieuzal was the first to hypothesize that eye-pieces meant to shield the eyes ought to consider UV rays as well. A decade later, Rodenstock GmbH, a German company, became the first ophthalmic lenses that guarded the eyes against UV solar light.

20th Century Eye-pieces

Crookes eyeglasses, named after Sir William Crookes, containing cerium, successfully obscured UV rays in their entirety. Later, sunglasses made out of celluloid were created by Sam Foster. Soon after, wearing sunglasses became fashionable, especially among celebrities and actors. A score after, polaroid glasses were used, followed by the Armorlite Company using resin in their mass-produced shades.


Now that you are fully cognizant about the annals of sunglasses and how far the world has come in terms of optical development, you can walk into the shops selling branded sunglasses in Select Citywalk and pick out an eye-piece that screams ‘this is the one!’ to your soul.

And as for me, I can stroll into the Sunglass Hut near me and carefully choose one that appeals to both my sense of fashion as well as the need to cover my eyes from that which people have striven to protect against for centuries.


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