You have perhaps wondered who was responsible for the creation of sunglasses. Well, the Chinese created the first sunglasses in the 12th century. They were constructed from a rough slab of smoked quartz to screen the sun’s beams. The rudimentary frames were hastily constructed to be held against the face of the user. These darkened glasses were not vision-correcting, lacked UV protection, and were created only for the wealthy. They had the benefit of shielding the user’s face from continual exposure to intense sunlight. Initially, the Chinese used sunglasses when conversing with others to conceal their emotions. This was especially prevalent in Chinese law courts, where judges wore sunglasses to prevent themselves from guessing their potential judgement based on their facial expression. When interrogating offenders, they also desired to seem emotionally aloof from the proceedings and conceal their emotions.

The Chinese introduced vision-correcting eyewear to Italy in the year 1430. In contrast to the prior sunglasses, they were darkened to prevent UV rays from entering the user’s eyes.

Steps Towards Today

James Ayscough began experimenting with coloured lenses in eyeglasses to improve the vision of persons with failing or impaired eyesight in the 18th century. He claimed that altering the colour of the lenses to green/blue would remedy certain eyesight deficiencies.

As the world entered the 20th century, sunglasses of the contemporary variety began to appear. When movie actors began wearing them to shield their eyes from the harsh studio lights, they gained widespread popularity. Sam Foster, founder of the Foster Grant company in Atlantic City, began mass-producing sunglasses in the United States in 1929. After selling the first pair of Foster Glass eyeglasses on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, his business flourished. In the United States, sunglasses became a fashionable fashion trend in the 1930s.

In the 1930s, the Army Air Corps commissioned the optical company Bausch & Lomb to develop suitable eyewear to shield pilots from high altitude glare. The company’s opticians and physicists developed a specific dark-green tint to absorb light in the yellow spectrum band.

Edwin Land, the creator of Polaroid Corporation, produced Polaroid filters in 1936, enabling glasses to shield for the first time against dangerous UV rays and making them appealing for design and comfort as well as health benefit.

Ray Ban designed anti-glare aviator spectacles with a novel polarized lens technology in 1936, while World War II was building. A year later, the public had access to the model of Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses that blocked the sun’s rays.

Foster Grant’s firm, The Comb and Glass Firm, popularized sunglasses with a creative advertising campaign in the manner of the 1960s. During the 1970s, Hollywood celebrities and renowned fashion designers increased the popularity of sunglasses with their brand-name lines.


In 2022, celebrities are still hiding behind large sunglasses to shield their eyes from UV radiation and make strong and distinctive fashion statements. With the advancement of technology, sunglasses continue to change. We have transitioned from using sunglasses to disguise our emotions in courtrooms to utilizing them as fashion statements. What’s next?