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A little History of Lenses

As a leader in reglazing glasses, we know our history. So for the fact junkies…a little history and some up to date “stuff”about lenses.

  • The first crude lenses occurred in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia; around 700BC they started polishing crystals (often quartz) in an attempt to replicate optical abilities that they noticed could be made with water.
  • One of the most famous examples of those original lenses is the Nimrud lens. Created in the ancient Assyria between 750 and 710 BC, this lens was used as a decorative piece, magnifying glass or tool for starting fires.
Image of Nimrud Lens
Nimrud Lens
Photo by user:geni License: CC-BY-SA
  • 60 A.D.– The renowned Roman Emperor Nero used emerald lenses to view gladiator games. Regardless of whether he could actually see better, his precious gem lenses became an instant, must-have fashion accessory among the upper classes. From togas to emerald lenses, perhaps Nero should also be remembered as one of Italy’s earliest fashion trendsetters.
  • Following this the three most popular schools of thought regarding optics at that time were “emission theory” formed by Plato, “intro mission theory” which was supported by Democritus, Epicurus, and Aristotle, and “geometrical optics” which was created by Euclid several hundred years after Plato.
  • Persian mathematician Ibn Sahl and Alhazen influential “Book of Optics” introduced modern theories of light to Europe in the 1200s. This book claimed that light travels in straight lines and can bounce off all matter. This was one of the most important optic texts in Europe well into the 17th century.
  • In 1284, Friar Salvino D’Armate’s created the first wearable eyeglass.
  • The Netherlands and Germany became centres of the eyeglass creation in the 14th and 15th centuries. Both are still very prominent with the production of Lindberg (Netherlands) and Zeiss (Germany) lenses, both available at lensesinglasses.co.uk
  • 1456– The invention of the printing press was pivotal in eyeglass history the widespread printing of books and the use of reading glasses began trickling down through the ranks of society. Spectacles were on their way to becoming an important accessory in everyday life for EVERYONE.
  • 1704 Isaac Newton’s book “Opticks“ was accepted as the greatest achievement in light research of that time.
“optices” by Oregon State University is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
  • 1700’s– Until the 18th Century wearing spectacles was literally a balancing act — of the nose! That was before a Parisian optician added short arms to a pair of spectacles that extended out to the temples. An English optician later designed the world standard for spectacle frames.
  • 1776– In the late 1700’s you practically had to be President to obtain a pair of eyeglasses in America! But What is good enough for a president is good enough for us; we can fit lenses from Kodak, an American-based company, here at lensesinglasses.co.uk.
  • 1784– Despite the popular belief that Benjamin Franklin invented the first bifocals, historical sources indicate that the concept of combining both distance and near lenses into one set of eyeglasses was invented earlier by at least one other man — the English optician Samuel Pierce, around 1775. So here at lensesinglasses.co.uk, we use UK-based Essilor lenses as a nod to Samuel and yes you can have them in bifocals or varifocals too!
  • 1926– The invention of television created as much of a need for distance-seeing eyeglasses as the Gutenberg Printing Press had for reading or close-up spectacles 470 years earlier.
  • 1940’s– Acrylic eyeglass lenses were invented in England (like all good things!) Acrylic’s had some disadvantages – brittle, easily scratched, and quick to discolour. Nevertheless, history will remember the material as the catalyst that inspired optical lens scientists to persevere until one day they would discover the ultimate lightweight plastic lens.

The up-to-date stuff!

  • 1941 Hoya Corporation was founded in the city of Hoya, Tokyo, by Shoichi and Shigeru Yamanaka, two visionary brothers. Originally a small manufacturer of optical lenses, they were quick to see the opportunities in the emerging fields of healthcare and information technology.
  • 1972 Essilor was a company formed from the merger of ophthalmic firms Essel and Silor. Its activities largely focused on research and development and it is now the world’s largest manufacturer of ophthalmic lenses.
  • 1984 pioneering optician Poul-Jørn Lindberg and esteemed architect Hans Dissing launched the Lindberg Optic Design House. Previously, Poul-Jørn had run his own optician practice with his wife in Århus, Denmark, but he grew increasingly frustrated by the heavy frames that dominated the eyewear market. In his quest to create light-weight frames, he partnered with Hans and the pair went on to invent a revolutionary new product – Air Titanium eyewear. This was a world first and spurred them on to establish their design house. Two years later in 1986, AIR Titaniums were launched to the public and the rest is history.

How does it work?

Step 1.

Request a free pack

Simply fill out our online form below and we will send you out a prepaid Free post box to put your frames in.

Step 2.

Post your glasses

When your free pack arrives, simply put your frames in the box and post them back to us, safe, fast tracked, insured and FREE with no fuss and no obligation.

Step 3.

Have new lenses fitted

When your frames arrive we’ll contact you to discuss your new lens options. Once your lenses have been fitted, we will return your glasses with insured and signed for delivery.

How does it work?

hand computer cursor icon

Step 1.

Request a free pack

Simply fill out our online form below and we will send you out a prepaid Free post box to put your frames in.

a pair of glasses icon

Step 2.

Post your glasses

When your free pack arrives, simply put your frames in the box and post them back to us, safe, fast tracked, insured and FREE with no fuss and no obligation.

a pair of glasses being put into an envelope icon

Step 3.

Have new lenses fitted

When your frames arrive we’ll contact you to discuss your new lens options. Once your lenses have been fitted, we will return your glasses with insured and signed for delivery.

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