The development of eyeglasses has been a long process, extending nearly 800 years and seeing numerous adaptations along the way. Throughout their existence, eyeglasses have transcended time (the same basic structure has reigned supreme for centuries). They have created new jobs and related products and have played a key role in the economic shift from a manufacturing focus to a service focus. At the same time, eyeglasses have impacted natural selection and allowed those who would otherwise be weeded out the ability to live and prosper. Eyeglasses' unintended consequence of continually degrading human eyesight and poor sustainability diminish the positive economic and social implications and place the future of this dominant technology in a questionable and potentially compromised state.
The invention of eyeglasses, though not the most significant technological development, has had a profound impact on culture and society. Throughout their eight hundred year existence, eyeglasses have changed the way people live and the way people view the world. In order to understand this impact, it is first necessary to understand the history and major modifications of eyeglasses. Consequently, this paper introduces the history of eyeglasses from inception to the modern day. Then, it attempts to address the impact the invention has had on the perception of time, the economy, modern society and analyze the related unintended consequences. In conclusion, this paper analyzes the sustainability of this invention in the wake of recent changes in the external environment. Throughout their long history, eyeglasses have transcended time, boosted the economy, changed the intricacies of modern society and produced numerous unintended consequences. History
Looking back a millennium, very few people had the need or ability to read and write. Society was organized in a predominately nomadic, agricultural fashion, placing little emphasis on written communication. Most of those that could read and write were monks, devoting much of their time to recording and translating religious materials (such as the Bible). As these monks grew older, it became increasingly difficult to read and write in the poorly lit monasteries. In order to overcome this obstacle, out of necessity, the resourceful monks developed a device known as reading stones. Reading stones are a section of clear, spherical polished natural quartz and are the first known corrective visual devices. As an illustration, if one was to cut a ping-pong ball made of transparent, polished glass into two equal sections, one would create two reading stones. It is believed that the Venetians constructed the first pair of eyeglasses between the years of 1268 and 1289. The Venetians built upon the reading stone concept by putting the glass into frames that could be held in front of the eye rather than being laid onto the text. Much of history has been recorded by artistic representation. The first known piece of art depicting eyeglasses was painted in 1352. The painting illustrated two brothers busily reading and writing manuscripts, one holding a magnifying glass and the other with glasses perched on his nose. This first artistic representation of eyeglasses is particularly symbolic as it cements the place of eyeglasses in history. The primitive form of modern day eyeglasses was composed of lenses set into bone, metal or leather. These eyeglasses looked like two small magnifying glasses with handles riveted together, typically in an inverted V shape that could be balanced on the bridge of the nose. The Venetian technology spread rapidly across the European continent, from Italy to the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and France. The first believed eyeglass manufacturer, formed in 1629, was the British Spectacle Makers Company. Their coat of arms showed three pairs of spectacles and a motto: "A blessing to the aged". One of the most...