Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Jaycie. Jaycie Wonders, “What are glasses made of?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Jaycie!

Do you ever have to squint to see things that are far away? Many kids squint to see road signs or even the front board during class. However, squinting can hurt your eyes. A better fix would be to look for a pair of glasses!

No one knows who made the first set of eyeglasses. However, experts do know that they were made in the 13th Century. Glasses showed up around the same time in northern Italy and in China. They could have originated in either place before spreading to the other.

These early glasses were like magnifying glasses. And most of them weren’t even made of glass! Instead, many early eyeglasses contained quartz. That’s because most glass at that time was not clear, so wouldn’t have worked well for eyeglasses.

Eyeglasses didn’t look much like modern glasses until the 1700s. That’s when people added ear stems to hold glasses on their faces. Glasses also became much more common around this time, likely because of the growing popularity of reading. Literacy rates rose in the 1700s, so more people reading meant more people needed glasses.

People didn’t start seeing eye doctors for glasses until the 1800s. Until then, they just tried on different pairs of glasses until they found one that made their eyesight better. Ophthalmologists changed that.

Have you ever had an eye exam? If so, your ophthalmologist probably started by asking you to read a set of letters from far away. They may have also shined a light in your eyes and tested your sight in other ways. If the doctor decides you should wear glasses, you’ll leave with a prescription

Glasses have changed a lot over the years. One major change was Benjamin Franklin’s invention of bifocals in 1784. This allowed glasses to help people see things that are both far away and very close. Later, trifocals were also introduced.

How about sunglasses? They’re about as old as eyeglasses. People in China started wearing sunglasses in the 12th Century. These early sunglasses were also made of quartz. Inuit people also wore sunglasses made of walrus ivory around the same time. 

Today, many people also wear contact lenses. These were invented by Adolf Fick in 1887. The first contact lenses were very uncomfortable. Luckily, today’s lenses are softer and can be worn all day. However, you should always take your contact lenses out at night.

Today, nearly half the people in the world wear eyeglasses or contact lenses. Some people even wear glasses with no lenses at all! Called fashion glasses, they come in many shapes and sizes to fit anyone’s personal style

Are glasses part of your daily routine? How about sunglasses or fashion glasses? Odds are, many of the people in your life use some aid to see better. 

Standards: C3.D2.His.2, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2

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