Since the 13th century, eyeglasses have been helping people to see better. But this technology has not remained unchanged over that time. Every generation brings new advances in vision technology, helping people see better whether they need vision correction or not. And these days glasses can also be computers, helping us get directions or even place calls. Eyeglasses are a technology in themselves, but the technology that is improving them is changing more all of the time.
From the 13th century to the 18th century, there were few meaningful changes to glasses. Originally designed by scholarly monks, it took hundreds of years for eyeglasses to include the arms that hold them on your face hands-free. Benjamin Franklin is responsible for giving us bifocal lenses in 1784, but glasses frames were not able to be mass-produced until the 19th century.
Today’s advancements are mostly in the lenses. In the middle of the last century, UV coatings were developed to block UV light in lenses, and while polarized lenses were already around, their mass adoption took place around the same time. New materials have been put to use in glasses over the last few decades, from light changing technology in lenses that allows wearers to use the same pair of glasses indoors and out, to polycarbonate and trivex lenses that are as much as ten times more impact resistant than standard lenses.
There are lenses that can help those with certain kinds of colorblindness gain better visual acuity, and there are also technologies in development that can help blind people ‘see.’ Blocking blue light is a fairly new technology that is being adopted even by those who don’t need glasses for correcting their vision to protect vision from the harmful effects of computer screens and LED light bulbs.
Nanotechnology is also being tested to replace contact lenses. Smartphones are used to detect a person’s eyesight through light refraction, and then that information is used to create nanoparticle drops specific to that user to correct vision. This has the potential to bring vision correction to places that lack ophthalmologists and access to vision care.
Though eyeglasses have been around for centuries, there is always room for improvement. Learn more about the technology that goes into correcting your vision below.
Last Updated on February 3, 2021.