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The History of Sunglasses

Early sunglasses were worn by the Inuit in prehistoric times. They consisted of walrus ivory with slits and were designed to help with snow blindness. There is also a legend that Nero watched gladiator fights with emerald lenses, but historians don’t give the story much credence. In the 12th century, the Chinese made lenses from smoky quartz, but they were used to conceal judges’ facial expressions. In the 1700s, a London-based optician began to experiment with green lenses, and emerald-tinted glasses became very popular. But it wasn’t until 1929 that the first mass-produced sunglasses debuted. They were sold by Sam Foster on the Atlantic City boardwalk. A few years later, Bausch & Lomb began making sunglasses for American military aviators. (Interestingly, General Douglas MacArthur helped make them popular because he was frequently photographed wearing a pair!) Polarized lenses were introduced in the 1930s, and the rest is history – sunglasses have become a staple fashion accessory as well as a must-have layer of protection between your eyes and the sun.

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