June 27th National Sunglasses Day

Protective eye wear has been around since the prehistoric days. Yep, even caveman needed to be able to see better if for no other reason to tell when a man-eating critter might be nearby.  They used flattened walrus ivory glasses, looking through narrow slits to block out a part of the sun. It worked, though there were complaints of cavemen walking into trees for apparently no reason – Lol! They may have looked a little like the glasses below.

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Even Nero used a kind of sunglasses. They were green because he liked to watch the Gladiators fight in an emerald world.

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The Chinese invented their own type of sunglasses to cover their faces so that witnesses could not see the nobles’ facial expressions as they testified. I think they might have looked like the sunglasses below.

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In 1752 James Ayscough began experimenting with what would eventually become the modern-day sunglasses. He tinted glass with blues and greens, not to keep the sun out but to improve general vision. It sort of worked because it blocked out the sun causing less glare. In the 19th century glasses were made out of amber, yellow, or brown because of the sensitivity those with syphilis had to sunlight. Sort of makes you think twice about using those colors today, doesn’t it?

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Tinted glasses were used by sharpshooters during the Civil War. No one reasoned why, but targets were much easier to spot because of the colored glasses. It wasn’t until 1920, before sunglasses actually became the sunglasses we know and love today. They rapidly became popular as fans saw the stars of the day hiding behind the glasses so no one would know who they were. Even back then, the protection the glasses provided from harmful UV waves was not complete understood.

Sam Foster made a cheap pair of sunglasses that anyone could afford. He sold his Foster Grants at Woolworth’s on the Atlantic City pier. In 1936, Edwin H. Land, invented the polarized sunglasses that changed the world forever. By 1937, more than 20 million pair of sunglasses had been sold in the US.

How to celebrate: Get the best pair of sunglasses you can afford, you won’t regret it. Imagine you are a celebrity trying to hide behind your sunglasses.  Try out the sunglasses the cavemen wore, but watch out for those trees.

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