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Sun—AND SNOW—Glasses

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Hey, Cool Campers!

Easy to obtain, you can pick up a pair of sunglasses for yourself at any ol’ convenience store. Or, if your vision requires corrective lenses, splurge on a nice pair of prescription sunglasses. But things weren’t always so. Sunglasses have been around for a long time, but not forever. So when were these crafty specs invented and who were the first folks to wear these cool shades?

The Alaskan Inuits, also known as Eskimos, get the credit for the invention of sunglasses, though the very first ‘sunglasses’ didn’t look anything like a cool pair of shades that we know and love today. They made them for staring out upon the vast plains of blindingly white snow sparkling in the sunlight.

The ancient ‘snow goggle’, however, essentially worked the same way as our modern polarized sunglasses. They were typically carved out of bone or ivory, featuring a long, single slit or multiple slits for each eye to see through. Some modern sunglasses are even modeled after this style with bars running across each eye covering.

Sunlight comes down in vertical light waves, reflects off surfaces, and changes into horizontal light waves. Polarized sunglasses are designed to block horizontal light waves, cutting back on glare. The small viewing slit did the same thing. Along the same lines of squinting as well as narrowing a camera’s aperture, the science is the same as it was 2000 years ago! Learn more on the topic with this old Blog post

Chinese judges in the Middle Ages wore glasses with a smoke-colored quartz lens not for the purpose of protective eyewear, but to hide any expression that could be revealed through their eyes. For a time after that around the 16 to 1700s, darkened glasses were thought to help correct visual impairments. While the science of this was shown to be untrue, they were eventually sold as sunglasses.

It was a man named Ray Ban who made the first polarized pair of sunglasses that reduce glare from sunlight. And a commercial for Foster Grant sunglasses in 1960 skyrocketed the popularity for this product making them the cool, long-lasting fashion that they still are today. Check out the shades we’ve got available here at Everything Summer Camp and, as always, thanks for reading, Camp Fans!


- John


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