The history of sunglasses
It's International Sunglasses day and we think that's a day worth celebrating. Join us as we take a trip down memory lane and check out the history of sunglasses…
Sunglasses or 'suncheaters' have a colourful history, from the Roman Emperor Nero who viewed gladiator matches through an emerald, to the Inuits ingenious snow goggles design, featuring small slits to limit the suns access and prevent snow blindness.
The Chinese were known to use pieces of smoky quartz as vision aids. Known as Ai Tai, meaning ‘dark clouds covering the sun’, the scrolls say they were worn in court to conceal their facial expressions during trials - handy!
The first tinted sunnies 'Goldoni Glasses' appeared in Venice, Italy in the late 18th century. Named after the famous playwright Carlo Goldoni, they were worn by gondoliers on the sunny canals of Venice. At the same time 'eye preservers' were popular in Britain with peeps that suffered from light sensitivity.
In the 1920s sunglasses were sold off the Atlantic City boardwalk by Sam Foster and became a fashion staple amongst the rich and famous. Actors and actresses loved them as they shielded their eyes from the blinding movie set lights. Off screen sunglasses were perfect for remaining incognito.
During World War II, the military designed spectacles for pilots that would enhance vision and reduce glare at altitude. The US Army Air Corps enlisted the help of eyeglasses maker Bausch & Lomb, who developed the iconic Ray-Ban Aviator in 1939. They went on to use ground breaking plastic molding technology in the 50’s and the Wayfarer was born.
In the 60s and 70s everything got supersized and we have Jackie O to thank for making oversized sunglasses a thing - and the rest as they say is history (of sunglasses).
Sunglasses are so important for blocking the sun's ultraviolet light. Exposure to light and UV radiation is linked to serious eye conditions... cataracts, macular degeneration, photokeratitis (corneal sunburn), and cancerous growths of the eye... ouch!
Protect your peepers by investing in quality sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB radiation. It's not the colour of the lenses, it's the percentage of UV protection that counts. Go for 100% every time. Although tiny 90s glasses are enjoying a revival, it's oversized or wraparound sunglasses that block the most sun, especially when those rays are bouncing off sand and sea.
Stay safe and celebrate those sunnies!