Did you know that sunglasses have been around since as early as the 12th century? In fact, many historians believe that sunglasses- at least the crudest versions- were used by the Inuit people in prehistoric times. Although there are no pictures of this, records show that the famous Roman Emperor Nero used to watch gladiator competitions using sunglasses made from polished light emerald green gems. However, true sunglasses which are the precursors to the vintage sunglasses and retro sunglasses with which we have become familiar came much later in the last half of the 1200’s. Among the first people to use such sunglasses were the Chinese, even though the reasons for which they used them had nothing to do with glare from the sun. Chinese judges would wear special sunglasses made out of smoky quartz when interviewing suspects as a way to hide their facial expressions so that they would not give away hints about their decisions.
Prescription sunglasses were the ones to follow next and their true significance began to be widely understood in the 1600’s when they were used extensively to help elderly people achieve better vision. James Ayscough is the man credited with the creation of modern, corrective sunglasses after his blue and green sunglasses were found to be effective in the correction of various eye impairments.
Through the years, makers of sunglasses struggled to overcome different challenges on the way to making the perfect versions, among them being how to keep the glasses properly propped on the face. It was not until 1936 that polarized sunglasses became available for the first time after Edwin H. Land applied the use of His patented polarized filter to make the glasses. The changes that have occurred since then have been largely aesthetic and they have led to the availability of cheap sunglasses that do more than just protect the eyes from the glare of the sun.