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Technology Has Changed. Why Haven’t Reading Glasses?

Technology Has Changed. Why Haven’t Reading Glasses?

Technology Has Changed. Why Haven’t Reading Glasses?

In a relatively short amount of time, technology has changed the world around us to the point where something our parents would have considered to be science fiction is now very much science fact.

Case in point: the smartphone. Even as recently as 2001, cell phones were hardly ubiquitous and indeed, they were used for little more than exactly that: making and receiving phone calls. Flash forward to today and the tiny phone you carry around with you in your pocket all day long is literally more powerful than the technology that was used to send Neil Armstrong and his compatriots to the moon in the 1960s.

But at the same time, all of this demands a pretty important question: if technology has changed this much in such a short amount of time, why is the same not true for something like eyeglasses?

All one has to do to illustrate this point is take a look at the timeline of eyeglasses throughout history. At that point, how far we have (or haven't) come becomes overwhelmingly clear.

In the Beginning

In terms of a general timeline, the first devices that we would now refer to as "eyeglasses" date all the way back to Northern Italy. There are historical documents like Robert Grosseteste's "On the Rainbow" that mention using some type of optical solution to "read the smallest letters at incredible distances." Likewise, similar types of devices are confirmed to have been under development as early as the second half of the 13th century.

Marco Polo also claimed that he encountered people wearing eyeglasses during the time he spent in China during the 13th century... but then again, Marco Polo claimed a lot of things that didn't pan out so the verdict is still out on that one.

Onward and Upward

Everyone knows that if you begin to develop vision-related problems (particularly the ones that set in as you get older like presbyopia), you're likely going to wind up wearing a pair of bifocals sooner rather than later. What you might not realize, however, is that this particular type of vision technology actually dates all the way back to August of 1784. It was brought into the world by - you guessed it - habitual overachiever Ben Franklin.

It was then that Franklin invented what he adorably called "double spectacles," which directly impacted the vision issues that were becoming more and more common as he got older. He even wrote in a note to a friend at the time that he was "happy [with his invention] which, serving for distant objects as well as near ones, make my eyes as useful to me as ever they were."

Franklin's bifocals separated each lens into two distinct portions - the top part for supporting distance vision and the lower part for supporting activities like reading. If you think that this sounds a lot like the bifocals you're familiar with... you're absolutely right. Apart from certain things like style and aesthetics, Franklin's bifocals and the ones you might have in a drawer right now are more or less the same.

Bifocals represented a massive leap forward in terms of vision-based problem solving, but it also presented an almost immediate stasis, too.

The Way of the Future

After Mr. Franklin made his impact on vision-based technology, things remained more or less unchanged until the 1960s. At that point, a man named Luis W. Alvarez developed an innovative new design that would once again change the very concept at the heart of glasses as we knew it.

Alvarez's design actually used two distinct lenses for each eye instead of one. Using a dial on the side of the glasses, the wearer can change the position of each lens in relation to one another to alter the focus as needed. If you were looking at something close up and needed to be able to see something like small print, you would just adjust the lens positioning in each eye until you had the focus you needed in that moment. If you then needed to focus on something far away, you would just adjust the focus again and you would be ready to go in seconds.

Alvarez's design made an immediate impact and, when you consider the fact that he also happened to have a Nobel Prize in physics, it's easy to see why. Once again, people suffering from poor vision all over the world were positively impacted by someone willing to think outside the box.

What Does Tomorrow Actually Look Like?

It's hard to deny the impact that Alvarez had and indeed, that very technology is even the basis for our own UZOOM glasses at Adlens. But at the same time, we also believe we're long overdue for another revolution in terms of high-tech reading glasses and we're trying hard every day to help make that happen.

Our Adlens Adapt glasses, for example, are the only all-day multi-task reading glasses that allow you to change your focus at the snap of a clip. It uses a three-zone system to allow you to instantly adapt the focus of your glasses depending on what type of task you're trying to complete without taking your glasses on or off. You get Boost, Task and All-Day zones that offer different focal lengths that can be changed with ease. There are also additional options like the Digital Task Zone clip that, dare we say it, make these strong contenders for the title of "the best computer reading glasses" as well by filtering out the harmful blue light that is around us every day.

With products like our own UZOOM and Adlens Adapt options, we're not necessarily trying to replace Mr. Alvarez's unique innovation. We just want to improve on it in any way that we can, changing the way that people think about not only how glasses are used, but also how they can be effortlessly incorporated into your daily life as well.

If you'd like to find out more about our Adlens Adapt and UZOOM products, or if you have any additional questions that you'd like to see answered, please visit us today at

  • Oct 04, 2018
  • Category: Article
  • Comments: 0
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