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TRIVIA, BRAINTEASERS
& FASCINATING FACTS




When and where were
the first eyeglasses made?

Hugh of Provence

Although Nero used emerald-colored lenses to view the gladiator
games in A.D. 60, it's questionable whether he could actually see
better. The first "reading glass" was developed around A.D. 1000
but was more of a magnifying glass than an eyeglass. Most
historians believe the first eyeglasses were invented in 1284 or
1285. No one knows if the inventor was a monk, a scientist, or a
craftsman, but all agree that the inventor was Italian.

In the 1300s eyeglasses were a luxury used by the rich as a
symbol of their wealth and power. However, when Gutenberg
invented the printing press in 1456, the history of eyeglasses
changed forever. Because of the widespread availability of books,
the use of reading glasses gradually filtered down to the common
people and became an important part of everyday life.

We do know that the first artistic depiction of eyeglasses
was painted by Tommaso da Modena in his 1352 portrait
of Hugh of Provence. The religious scholar is seen with
his glasses studiously perched on his nose.

However, eyeglasses still had a long way to go. Finding a pair
that helped the wearer see better was a time-consuming process of
trying on one pair after another until sight improved. In the
seventeenth century the Spanish invented the first graded lenses,
which solved the problem of the trial-and-error fitting of eyeglasses.

Until the eighteenth century, eyeglasses either balanced
precariously on the nose or were held by the rim with one hand.
Finally, an optician in Paris added short arms that extended to the
temples, and an optician in England carried the idea further by
extending the arms to the ears. This became the
world standard for eyeglass frames.

From ... "Do Fish Drink Water?" by Bill McLain

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