History of Designer Sunglasses

History of Sunglasses

-The Inuit tribes of north Canada and Greenland made the first sunglasses: bone or wood disks with slits in them, to block glare from snow.

-The oldest surviving pair of Inuit sunglasses is from the 1200s, but the Inuit likely had them for centuries before then.

-In ancient Rome, Emperor Nero wore emerald sunglasses to watch gladiator matches.

-Starting in the 1360s, judges in China wore dark rock crystal sunglasses in court to hide their reactions to proceedings.

-China started importing European clear glass spectacles in the 1430s. They smoked the lenses to create better sunglasses for their judges.

-Europeans were using darkened glasses for sunlight protection by 1591.

-The first clip-on sunglasses, which attached to clear glasses with a hinge, were used in Europe in the 1600s.

-James Ayscough made the first tinted sunglasses in 1752. His glasses came in blue and green. He thought clear glass spectacles might damage wearers’ sight with too much glare.

-Polarized sunglasses were invented by Edwin Lund (US) in 1929. He later started the Polaroid Corporation, which sold polarized sunglasses as well as camera equipment.

-Sunglasses became associated with celebrities in the silent film era (early 1900s). Movie stars used them to avoid being recognized, and for eye protection against the intense movie set lighting of the time.

-Sam Foster was the first person to sell sunglasses to the public. In 1929, he started the company Foster Grant, with one store on the Atlantic City, NJ, US boardwalk.

-Bausch & Lomb invented Ray-Ban sunglasses for the US Air Force, to protect fighter pilots’ eyes from glare in flight while still allowing them to look down at their instrument panels.

-NASA invented special sunglasses for astronauts to use in space, starting with the Apollo moon missions. Space sunglasses are extra-durable, and have a thin gold coating to protect against the increased UV radiation in space.

Types and Classifications

-Sunglasses manufacturers classify them by UV absorption, tint, and light transmittance.

-Cosmetic sunglasses block 70% of UVB radiation (the most damaging) and 20% of UVA radiation.

-General purpose sunglasses, for general outdoor use, block 95% of UVB and 60% of UVA.

-Special purpose sunglasses, for bright environments like snow, sand, or water glare, block 99% of UVB and 60% of UVA.

-Gradient lenses are dark at the tops and fade to a lighter shade on the bottom.

-Double gradient lenses have dark tops and bottoms, with lighter strips across the middle. They’re best for glare situations like snow, sand, and water.

-Photochromic lenses, such as Transitions, turn darker or lighter based on UV intensity.

-Polarized sunglasses work by blocking the vertical components of light.

-Mirrored sunglasses have reflective coating on the front of the lenses, for light reduction. They’re popular for use in very bright environments.

-Clip-on sunglasses attach to clear spectacles.

-Rimless sunglasses have earpieces attached directly to the lenses, with no frame. They’re lighter than most other sunglasses.

-Teashades are the small, round-lensed sunglasses John Lennon made famous.

Selecting the Best Sunglasses

-Sunglasses’ ability to block UVB is the most important quality for eye protection. UVA may not actually be very dangerous to the eyes.

-Use sunglasses even if you have dark skin or eyes. More skin or eye melanin doesn’t mean better UV protection in the eyes.

-Unless you work in outer space, you don’t need infrared-blocking sunglasses.

-Quality sunglasses reduce light entering the eyes by up to 97%.

-Low-quality sunglasses usually aren’t the best for eye protection. They can actually cause the iris to open more and increase UV exposure.

-The cost of sunglasses has nothing to do with their effectiveness. Some designer brands have poor UV protection, and some cheap ones work very well. Always check the UV ratings.

-Sunglasses with glass lenses are the most durable, but they also break more easily and are heavier than plastic lenses.

-Wraparound sunglasses are the best at blocking light coming in from around the frames.

-Wraparounds are especially recommended for anyone who spends a lot of time at high altitudes or on the water.

-In the US, look for sunglasses with a “UV 400” rating for best UV blockage.

-In Europe, the best UV-blocking sunglasses are marked with the “CE” rating.

-In Australia and New Zealand, look for sunglasses with an “EPF 10” rating.

-Sunglasses should fit snugly, without being too tight or sliding around. They should fit around the brow area, but not so closely that your eyelashes touch the lenses.

-The longer a nose you have, the lower the nose bridge on sunglasses should be, to prevent sliding and light exposure.

-To check the optical quality of a pair of sunglasses: put them on, focus on a vertical line in the surrounding area, and move your head back and forth smoothly. If the vertical line wiggles, the sunglasses have an optical defect – find another pair.

-Wearing contacts doesn’t eliminate the need for sunglasses. Most contacts don’t provide UV protection.

-Contact lens users should always use sunglasses in dusty or sandy environments, to prevent dirt from getting in their eyes and trapped between the contacts and the eyes.

-Darker lenses don’t necessarily equal better UV protection. Always check the UV rating.

-Polycarbonate lenses are the most scratch- and impact-resistant.

-All sunglasses sold in the US are required to have impact-resistant lenses.

-Polarized bifocal reading sunglasses are available.

-Sunglasses are especially important in high-altitude areas and in tropical and subtropical places. The nearer the Equator or higher up you are, the more UV radiation you’ll be exposed to.

-Sunglasses are also important in areas where the ozone layer is more depleted, including the lands near the Arctic Circle and southern South America, because UV levels are higher there.

-Sunglasses should always be worn outdoors between the hours of 10 am-2 pm, when UV rays are strongest.

-Cloudy or hazy days don’t filter out UV radiation. Wear sunglasses outdoors anyway.

-Sunglasses with flexible rubber frames are available for children.

-Rubber reversible sunglasses with head straps are available. These are specially made for infants.

-Wearing larger-sized sunglasses over clear glasses sometimes works, if you don’t need or want prescription sunglasses.

-Sunglasses with oversized lenses provide some sunburn protection because of their size.

Cosmetic Sunglasses

-Blue and purple sunglasses are mostly for fashion. They give very little UV protection.

-People with round faces look best in sunglasses with angular or rectangular frames.

-People with rectangular and diamond-shaped faces look best in oval frames or rimless sunglasses.

-People with square faces look best in round sunglasses.

-Triangular-faced people look best in sunglasses with wide frames in the eye area.

-Oval-faced people look good in most styles of sunglasses.

-Sunglasses with oversized lenses can make the nose and face look smaller.

-People have been known to use sunglasses to hide red eyes from crying, lack of sleep, or substance abuse, or to hide black eyes.

Work and Sports Uses

-Yellow and orange sunglasses are best for shooters, pilots, hunters, and anyone working on the water. These colors improve depth perception and contrast.

-Green-tinted sunglasses have the best contrast and visual sharpness.

-Polarized sunglasses are good for people working on the water, especially commercial fishers. They enable people to see into the water due to the glare reduction.

-Many pro golfers use brown sunglasses, to increase contrast on green golf courses.

-Professional baseball players use anti-glare brown or gray sports sunglasses for day games, and clear anti-reflective glasses for night games.

-Celebrities sometimes use sunglasses with oversized lenses to avoid being recognized by paparazzi.

-Gamblers and professional poker players use sunglasses to hide their facial expressions during games.

-Sunglasses can be used to prevent eyestrain in anyone who works on computers for long periods of time, or in fluorescent-lit environments.

-Sunglasses are also helpful in work environments that require being around pavement, like driving or construction work. Pavement can be very reflective.

-Sunglasses keep dust, dirt, and sand out of the eyes – helpful in gritty work situations.

-Night-shift workers use sunglasses to block light exposure and readjust their sleep schedules.

-Skiers often use sunglasses with large side shields, to reduce glare from snow.

-Flexible nylon frames and polycarbonate lenses (for impact resistance) are best for sports uses.

-Use attachable straps that go around the head to keep sunglasses on during sports.

-Police and security agents often wear mirrored sunglasses, both to observe suspects without suspects being able to see their eye movement, and for a slight intimidation factor.

-Highway patrol cops use mirrored sunglasses because they allow wearers to focus easily on moving objects (like cars) without squinting.

-If a job requires you to wear a headset or helmet, get sunglasses with thin frames, so they won’t be pressed into your head.

Medical Uses

-Regular sunglasses use can help preserve eyesight as one ages.

-Children should wear sunglasses regularly. Their eyes absorb more UV rays than adults’ eyes do, and they usually spend more time outside.

-In the US, most insurance plans pay for sunglasses used for medical purposes.

-The “UV 400” or equivalent ratings are generally the best sunglasses for medical purposes.

-Sunglasses with good UV protection can help prevent cataracts and certain eye cancers.

-Glaucoma patients should always use sunglasses outdoors.

-Pterygium, benign growths on the eye surface, can be prevented with sunglasses.

-Pinguecula, degradation of the collagen in the eye causing eyeball growths, can also be prevented with sunglasses use.

-Sunglasses can also protect against snow blindness, when the eyes are burned by glare reflected from snow (this can also happen with sand).

-Amber sunglasses, which block blue light, may help prevent age-related macular degeneration.

-People who already have macular degeneration, or who are undergoing treatment for it, should use sunglasses to prevent further damage.

-People with retinal dystrophies should use sunglasses to prevent further problems.

-Eye doctors give disposable sunglasses to people who’ve gotten dilating drops in eye exams.

-The skin around the eyes is more vulnerable to skin cancer, because it’s thinner. Sunglasses use helps prevent this type of skin cancer.

-Sunglasses use helps prevent wrinkles around the eyes.

-Some sleep disorders are treated by using blue-light-blocking sunglasses in artificial light after dark.

-Use sunglasses for 1-2 hours before bedtime to improve sleep (especially if you must sleep during the day).

-Psoriasis patients being treated with UV radiation should wear sunglasses during and after the therapy, as their eyes will be more sensitive to UVA radiation.

-Babies getting light therapy for jaundice wear sunglasses during the treatment, to avoid eye damage.

-People who’ve had recent eye surgery, such as LASIK, cataract removal, or cornea transplants, should wear sunglasses while recovering.

-The company Enchroma makes Cx sunglasses, which reduce certain light wavelengths to make red and green more noticeable. Enchroma claims these sunglasses allow color-blind people to perceive reds and greens in bright light conditions.

-Blind and visually impaired people sometimes use sunglasses because of light sensitivity, or to hide unusual-looking eyes.

-People with eye issues like nystagmus, strabismus, or exopthalamos may use sunglasses to treat or hide their eyes.

-Sunglasses can help prevent migraines or other light-provoked headaches.

-Sunglasses increase the moisture level in eyes by blocking heat, light, and wind.

-For people with photosensitive epilepsy, sunglasses can help reduce seizures.

-People on certain medications that increase light sensitivity (such as oral contraceptives, psoriasis medications, diuretics, and sulfa antibiotics) should wear sunglasses in bright environments.

-Certain types of sunglasses reduce visual-perceptual issues, and can help reading disabilities caused by them.

-People with sensory processing disorder, ADHD, and autism often find that sunglasses improve their visual processing and help them tolerate uncomfortable levels of light.

-Sunglasses can be used to help jet lag, smoothing the impact of time zone changes by reducing the amount of light the brain registers.

Caring For Sunglasses

-Most sunglasses can be cleaned using microfiber cloths. Wool and linen also work.

-Rinsing with warm water may be necessary for dirtier sunglasses.

-Dishwashing detergent can be used to clean sunglass lenses.

-Glass cleaning sprays work on some types of sunglasses.

-Never use ammonia-based cleaners on sunglasses. Ammonia can destroy the lenses.

-Camera-cleaning sprays work on some sunglasses. Check the spray’s safety first.

-Mirrored sunglasses should only be cleaned with lens cleaners made for them. Other cleaners can damage the coating.

-Sunglass fogging can be prevented by rubbing the lenses with Ivory soap, then cleaning them off with microfiber cloth.

-Bent frames can usually be straightened back out with needlenose pliers.

-Keep sunglasses in a carrying case, to prevent scratches.

-Use lanyards to keep sunglasses from getting lost.

Cautions

-Some medical professionals think sunglasses may raise the risk of skin cancer. Some say the blocking of visual light makes the body think it’s dark, which makes the skin produce less protective tans. Others speculate that wearing sunglasses simply makes people less likely to get out of strong sun, leading to too much UV exposure.

-Never use sunglasses with side shields for everyday or industrial purposes. They block peripheral vision and can be dangerous in those situations.

-Never use over-the-counter sunglasses for eye protection when engaged in industrial activities (like welding, cutting, or brazing). They don’t provide enough protection from the intense light involved. Use special-purpose sunglasses or approved safety goggles instead.

-NEVER look directly at the sun, even with sunglasses on. They don’t provide enough protection. Looking directly at the sun can cause major vision damage.

-Sunglasses don’t protect against tanning lights, either. Never look directly into those.

-Sunglasses that block a high level of blue light can be dangerous when driving. They can affect color vision and the ability to recognize traffic lights.

-Photochromic lenses don’t usually work while driving. Most vehicle windshields already filter out some UV light, which means the lenses won’t darken sufficiently.

-Don’t wear sunglasses at night unless there’s a specific medical reason to do so. It results in dangerous vision reduction, especially when driving.

-Pilots shouldn’t wear polarized sunglasses while flying. Polarization can create distortions when looking out a cockpit window or at instrument panels.

-Pilots shouldn’t use clip-ons or many over-the-counter sunglasses when flying, either. Consult a doctor about getting prescription sunglasses for flying.

-Polarized sunglasses make it very hard to read cell phones, GPS screens, or LCD screens like those at ATMs and cash registers.

-Banks and payday loan/check cashing businesses don’t allow people to wear sunglasses inside (for fear of robbers using them to hide identity).

-Unless you have documentation of a medical reason for using them, you can’t wear sunglasses when donating blood or selling plasma. This is a caution against addicts trying to hide substance abuse signs.

Unusual Stuff

-In many Australian schools, kids are required to wear sunglasses during outdoor activities (a good idea, considering the intense sun there).

-Slang terms for sunglasses include: cheaters, shades (US), sunnies, spekkies (Australia), glares (India), glecks (Scotland) and cooling glasses (India and the Middle East).

-There are sunglasses designed for animals, including “Doggles” for dogs. Doggles are used to aid dogs with light sensitivity and other medical issues.

-The US military used Doggles on military dogs in Iraq and Afghanistan, to protect their eyes from dust.

-“Rearview” sunglasses have mirrored glass strips on the lenses’ inside edges, allowing wearers to see behind them if needed.

-“Pivothead” sunglasses have a tiny camera in them, for shooting video from the wearer’s point of view.

-University of Washington-Seattle scientists invented sunglasses that allow wearers to adjust color and darkness of lenses using a built-in control knob.

-The company Qi-Wear makes Bluetooth-equipped sunglasses, which can be used for playing music or talking, and block some background noise.

-Oakley’s “Thump” brand was the first make of sunglasses to include an audio player.

-A pair of lost astronaut sunglasses is among the 13,000+ pieces of space junk orbiting Earth.