The History of Sunglasses: Know What You Wear

The History of Sunglasses: Know What You Wear Header

Sunglasses have a bold and sexy history in modern times, and their popularity has only increased in the last century. That may be due to the fact that sunglasses haven’t been a part of human life but for a short time. To understand the evolution of sunglasses and prescription sunglasses, first you must look to the evolution of eyewear in general.

Couple Wearing prescription sunglasses

The History of Sunglasses: Know What You Wear Infographic

Sunglasses: The Beginning

Lenses created for the purpose of improving vision have been around for nearly a millennium. The first pair of corrective lenses for farsightedness were created in Florence, Italy, around the later part of the 13th century. Two decades later, lenses could also be made to aid those who suffered nearsightedness.

These early lenses rested on the nose of their wearer without any aid from the ears. Finally, in the 1600s ear supports came along which would pave the way to the popularity of sunglasses.

It would be impossible to say when the first pair of sunglasses were created. People from many different cultures have fashioned eye protection from the sun in some form or another throughout history and even before.

Tinted lenses had been around for over a decade before the first modern sunglasses were created. It was believed that green or blue tints could aid in correcting vision problems.

In 1919, it was Sam Foster and William Grant who were first to manufacture sunglasses in mass quantities. In creating hair accessories for women with plastic injection molding technology, they realized their process had many uses beyond accessories. A decade later, sunglasses gained in popularity when Foster sold them along the Atlantic City boardwalk.

The Data

Once they were mass-produced, sunglasses were an instant hit. Stores were soon seeking out Foster Grant to fill their shelves with these dazzling new fashion accessories their customers craved. Life magazine reported in 1938 that over 20 million pairs had been sold the prior year.

Coincidentally, 1937 was also the year the first aviator sunglasses were marketed to the military to protect pilots’ eyes. It didn’t take Hollywood and beyond long to take notice. Wayfarers came along 15 years later.

The popularity of cool shades only grew when Hollywood stars used them in attempts to step out incognito. While the movie stars were often busted by paparazzi, their dark shades only helped to increase the popularity of sunglasses and the people who wore them.

Why Men Wear Sunglasses

Wayfarers and aviators never seem to go out of style. In fact, Elvis Presley modernized the aviator when he wore them as giant gold frames.  Both styles were popularized once again in the 80s by Tom Cruise. In “Risky Business” he looked like a cool dude in his Ray-Ban Wayfarers, and then in “Top Gun,” he was dashing and daring donning his aviators.

Men typically wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun, but men also know that by choosing the right style, they project a certain attitude toward life. If a man wants to be taken seriously, he’ll probably choose sunglasses made from metal frames. If he wants to look like he’s out for a good time, thicker plastic frames are the perfect reminder of his free-spirited attitude.

Why Women Wear Sunglasses

Women always look good in sunglasses, and they know it. Beyond protecting their eyes from the sun, their sunglasses can accessorize what they’re wearing. Think back to Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Her image from the movie is forever immortalized by big dark frames resting on her small petite nose while the rest of her body is enveloped in sophisticated dark threads and shimmering pearls.

Marilyn Monroe seemed to favor frames that were cat-eyed in design. She would step out in a disguise that utilized a scarf covering her head and big black frames to hide her eyes. Obviously, the disguise rarely worked or there wouldn’t be so many photos of her in this type of dress.

Fortunately, sunglasses can also be tailored to fit your current prescription. Womens prescription sunglasses look just like regular sunglasses, allowing anyone to recreate the gorgeous styles of their favorite fashionistas regardless of their vision.

Sunglasses and Life

Sunglasses haven’t changed much over the years. New designs have been added to the classics in order to keep them modern, yet people usually have a pair of classic frames in their collections as well.

Safety sunglasses are designed for those who do tough jobs, whether they’re indoors welding or outdoors on a job site. Swim goggles and ski masks also come with UV protective lenses. Sunglasses can be designed to meet any demand, whether it’s fun, sport, or work.

Prescription Sunglasses


Is it safe to purchase prescription sunglasses online?

It is safe to purchase your prescription eyewear online. Many reputable eyewear companies, including Safety Gear Pro, offer a return policy if you aren’t satisfied with your new frames. Always read the return policy for the company you are ordering from before placing an order. It is best to stay clear of companies that don’t stand behind their frames.

What color tint is best for my sunglasses?

The lens tint is mostly a matter of personal preference. However, there are some differences that may help you decide which tint is best for you. Gray tinting is one of the most popular choices because they offer the best viewing for color and work well indoors and on cloudy days. Brown sunglasses can improve your depth perception, which makes them a great choice for sports such as golfing and fishing. If you enjoy playing in the snow, blue lenses can help reduce glare and eye fatigue. The best tint for you is going to depend on what you plan to do while wearing your sunglasses.

Are there times I shouldn't wear polarized lenses?

If you work in the aviation industry as a pilot, polarized lenses are not recommended. That’s because polarized lenses can make it more difficult to view some instruments that utilize anti-glare filters. Polarized lenses can also make it more difficult to view an LCD screen, such as those used by many auto manufacturers.

Can polarized lenses come with UV protection?

Polarized lenses by themselves offer no protection against UV radiation. However, UV can be combined with many lenses that have also been polarized. When purchasing polarized lenses, it’s always best to check the manufacturer’s description to see if the lenses also offer an adequate amount of UV protection.

Are name-brand sunglasses better than cheap sunglasses?

Generally, sunglasses manufactured by trusted names in the industry are more durable than budget sunglasses. That’s because they use more durable materials, from the plastics that make up the bulk of the frame to the metal screws that hold your frames together. Even the lenses of brand-name sunglasses will prove to be more durable and scratch resistant. When purchasing sunglasses from reputable companies, you are making an investment in eye protection.

Finding the Best Frames to Fit Your Style

Whether you want to go bold and be noticed or go bold and not be noticed, Safety Gear Pro is your one-stop shop. They carry frames with lenses designed for on-the-job or weekend fun. Visit their online store and bring your prescription. The perfect pair of sunglasses are waiting for you.

Woman Wearing Prescription Sunglasses