I Can’t Think Without My Glasses



By Jill Lowe



“I can’t think without my glasses.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Vivienne Westwood




So said recently deceased English fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood. Many eyeglass wearers concur, feeling non-productive without glasses. And the wearing of eyeglasses can be a function of necessity or indeed of fashion. The notion of looking more intellectual has been an ongoing reason for the proliferation of people donning glasses, even having NO need for vision correction, and the Harry Potter films served to further this.  One might note that no such fanciful nature has been associated with using hearing aids.


Use of glasses for actual vision correction becomes the purview of those of us who age, as well as those needing vision correction unrelated to age.   Magnifying glasses, 1/2 frame glasses, pince-nez, reading glasses, laser vision correction and contacts are all options. And if one has a choice, there is not one particular avenue more widely selected.


Laser Vision correction is popular


Depending on ones’s perspective, there are some who want to be rid of glasses at all costs and there are some who consider glasses another type of jewelry, amassing a wardrobe of glasses. For such people, a new season, or even an actual change in prescription can be the impetus for new glasses. Eyeglass companies do know this and entice us with creative, witty notions as well as advertising depicting beautiful people modeling eyeglasses.







From the haute couture model to everyday people we can imagine ourselves in new eyewear



What is the history of eyeglasses? How did it move from a rare possession only for the rich, to a vision fashion accessory available to anyone?


Glasses are the result of centuries of innovative technology.

While most experts claim the 13th century being the beginning, it wasn’t until the 18th century that the eyeglasses we recognize today started to take shape. A nose bridge and temples (the proper name for the “arms”) were added to keep the eyeglasses in place. Advancements continued from there and included better materials, better designed temples, and more comfortable nose pads.


So that is physical design but what about lenses?

What about bifocals?   Benjamin Franklin is credited for inventing bifocals in 1784.  Today, although modern bifocals haven’t changed in design since Benjamin Franklin’s time, better technology has evolved to make the bifocal lenses much more advanced, leading to the progressive lens: the bifocal or trifocal lenses without visible lines.


Owen Aves of England was granted the first patent for PAL (progressive addition lenses) in 1907, but it was not till 1922 when Duke Elder made the first commercially progressive lens available.

However, the first progressive lens with a modern design was Varilux and Carl Zeiss, patented by Bernard Maitenaz of France, in 1953. The progressive lens has been evolving since then, with the help of manufacturers like Carl Zeiss AG to improve usability and distortion-free viewing. Progressive lenses are a giant leap in lens technology, since they allow the wearer the ability to see distance, intermediate, and near fields all in one set of eyewear. This is especially helpful for viewing computers, laptops, and other digital devices since they reside in the intermediate range, which distance and bifocal eyeglasses cannot reach.



Plenty of humor and perspective abounds around eyeglasses


My wife likes me to wear her glasses so I see things her way….. unknown


I wish I could remember where I put things. I spend half my life looking for my keys. With the other half I look for my glasses.

Sara Paretsky




Celebrities and their eyeglasses have quite some influence on eyeglass fashions.

John Lennon, Steve Jobs, Steve McQueen, Harry Potter have had their impact.


Al Roker, weatherman at NBC has a wardrobe of eyeglasses


Iris Apfel at 101, that doyenne of exuberant, witty personal style influences so many


Eclectic American Original icon Iris Apfel, almost always with her glasses 




Many many brands of eyeglasses are available.




And don’t forget the children


Sunglasses  offer another category, adopted by it seems ALL.

Overarching much of the enticement in wearing sunglasses (aside from the obvious necessity) is the sentiment summed up by Jack Nicholson.







And we cannot forget the outrageous glasses of the singer, songwriter, piano player showman ELTON JOHN




Now what about Transition Lenses? They are those lenses use photochromatic technology which activates when exposed to UV, and deactivates when UV is
These transition lenses may be referred to as photochromic lenses, or even light￾adaptive lenses, or variable tint lenses.They are hassle free eliminating the need to carry sunglasses.


Naming of Eyeglass Stores
Selling eyeglasses gives such a superb opportunity for clever naming and you can see store names around the world with fetching attention-getting names. Here are my 20 favorites but you will know others.

Dim View
Eye candy
Eye Excel
Eyefit Optics
Mesmer Eyes
New eyedentity
Optical Aleutian
The eye scene
The Eyes have It
U n Eye


It does not matter how clever a name is, nor how big a showroom is, there is no substitute for backroom skills and expertise at an eyeglass store.

Are your opticians skilled in fitting your glasses, including adjusting nose pads, temples, and pantoscopic or retroscopic tilts of the frame sitting on your face?

From the beginning of your frame search, do they help you to pick out the right frames for your prescription and your face? The optical center, pupillary distance and segment height should be measured after the frame selection, then the correct base curve (the curvature of the lenses) should be specified during the ordering process to ensure the lenses will fit properly into the frame you selected. All these elements are crucial for enjoying your “perfect” pair of glasses.


Such skills are provided at Eyelines, an independent eyeglasses store located in the heart of downtown (the Loop) Chicago. Their ability to expertly edge (grind) and adjust lenses on premises is unique and difficult to find in most optical stores.


Whichever eyeglass store one goes to, it is worthwhile to use the above perspectives to measure and evaluate a provider’s skills.



Notes and Links.
Photo of Jill : Joe Mazza Bravelux inc.
Photos copyright © 2023 Jill Lowe. All rights reserved
Images with Shutterstock license