Eyeglasses are believed to have been invented in Italy in the year 1289, although the actual identity of the inventor is unknown. Originally, these glasses were worn by scholars and monks. They had no temples (side pieces)and were simply held in front of the eyes or balanced on the nose. The glasses themselves were framed in leather, and this style was worn until 1452 when the production of books and the increase in literate citizens demanded new designs and mass production.

The 1700s

The next point of extensive development for eyeglasses occurs in the 1700s. In this century, eyeglasses were developed to include the temples that secure the frames over the ears. They were also made by hand.

Common Styles

Wig Spectacles

These particular style of glasses were characterized by the long temple pieces that extended over the ears. They were called wig spectacles because of their popularity among men who wore wigs.


Still a common type today. The bifocal was invented in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin. They include a lens that can accommodate both short and long vision.

The 1800s

During the 1800s, the manufacturing of eyeglasses took on a much larger scale and people were able to purchase them for reasonable prices from many shops and merchants.

Common Styles


In the 1800s, there was societal view that wearing glasses was a sign of ill health and old age. For this reason people wanted to avoid wearing glasses. The Lorgnette was a clever compromise. The design featured a pair of glasses but with a long handle instead of temples.

The 1900s

During the 1900s, the manufacture of eyeglasses became a booming industry in itself. The range of styles available became extensive as Hollywood expanded and celebrities began to influence the fashions of the time.

Common Styles


This style was popular during 1900-1920. It was a French style featuring a small frame that fit snugly over the face and pinched the nose.

Round Lenses

Thanks to the Hollywood actor named Harold Lloyd, the Pince-Nez was mercilessly thrown out of favour in the late 1920s. The style was replaced by a large round lens inside a tortoiseshell frame.

The Upsweep

In the 1940s, the frame of the moment featured an upsweep on the top rim, simulating the sweep of a woman’s eyelashes. The frames themselves became available in a variety of colours.

21st Century

Since the 1950s, the styles and types of eyeglasses on offer have become numerous and fashions change by the year rather than the decade. In the 21st century, eyeglasses are a fashion statement as much as a practical necessity and countless designers have turned their talents to creating the styles of the moment.

To get designer eyeglasses of your own, visit Laurier Innes Eye Clinic for a great selection of styles from name brand designers.