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Glasses or Plastics? Spectacle Evolution

Ever wonder why Eyeglasses are called glasses?  The lenses are not made out of glass; rather they're made of plastic!  Maybe we should call them plastics?

Eyeglasses are also known as "Spectacles."  When eyeglasses were first crafted, they were made from glass.  This is where the name 'eyeglass' originated from.

The first eyeglasses were made in Italy in 1286.  In the early years, they originated as a monocle or a pince-nez.  What we know today as the modern day eyeglass is quite evolved from its predecessors.

Eyewear nowadays comes in many varieties:


Frame Material - metal, titanium, plastic, wood

Frame Styles – semi rimless, full rimless, horned rim, cat-eye, harry potter, aviator

Frame Sizes – infant sizes, kids frames, and X-tra large frames

Frame Types - swimming, sports, work safety, sunwear

….not to mention the varities in Lenses:


Lens Types - bifocal, trifocal, progressives

Lens Thickness - different INDEX of lens makes thinner and lighter lens for higher prescriptions.  material of plastic can be altered also.  "Polycarbonate" or "Trivex" lenses are used for safety purposes. They provide high impact resistance and prevent the plastic from shattering.

Lens Coatings - Antireflection, Scratch resistance, easy-to-clean (smudge coat/ water repellent/ static repulsion), UV protection

Lens Tints - colored lenses: pink, blue, brown, etc

Transition and Polarized Lenses: eliminate intensity of light outdoors, and diminishes glare from surfaces from the ocean and glass panels

The options are endless. Its like purchasing a brand new car. You can get fully loaded, or customize your car as you like it.  With modern innovations, what we know as "glasses" today, are evolved on a colossal scale.

The question remains then:  Why do we not use glass in our glasses anymore?  The answer is quite simple.  Glass is harmful when shattered.


1) Heavy

2) Thick

3) Saftey risk – can crack and cause major facial, and eye damage (biggest reason to stay away from glass!)