10 things you didn’t know about optometry

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If you have a vision problem, you’ve probably wondered how you would cope without your glasses, contact lenses or laser vision correction. Would you be able to perform your daily tasks? Would you be covered in bruises? Well, not surprisingly, human beings have done without them for a very long time… because someone had to discover the laws of optics, then optometry was invented and evolved until it became what it is today!

Here are 10 facts that will probably surprise you about the evolution of optometry:

1.Monks invented the first reading aid.

In the 1240s, monks of the Franciscan order created the first reading aid: the reading stone. They placed this plano-convex polished glass over letters to magnify them. They quickly became popular throughout Europe. They are still used as paperweights today!

2.  The first portable glasses were invented in 1284.

Salvino D’Armate is to be credited for the invention of the first wearable glasses around the year 1284 in Italy. While trying to find a solution to help him see better, he discovered that he could correct hyperopia and presbyopia through convex lenses. The user had to hold them on the bridge of his nose. They were called “rivet glasses”.

3. It took 200 years to correct myopia!

It took almost 200 years after the invention of wearable glasses during the 13th century that corrected hyperopia and presbyopia to start using concave lenses: these glasses finally corrected myopia.

4.  The Greeks and Romans discovered the laws of optics.

The Greeks and Romans, pioneers in many fields, were the first to study the laws of optics. They knew about the magnification and refraction of light, but had not yet discovered how to apply this knowledge to the manufacture of vision aids.

5. The first rigid frame temples were invented 400 years after eyeglasses.

The first eyeglass frame temples were created in Spain in the 1600’s: they used ribbons that they wrapped around the ears or head of the user. Users could wear a hat over the ribbon to keep it in place. The Chinese then improved the invention by adding small weights to the ropes. But the rigid ear-straps we wear today were invented by Englishman Edward Scarlett in 1727.

6. 29% of the world’s population has a visual impairment.

Worldwide, at least 2.2 billion people have a visual impairment. That’s 29% of the world’s population! (Source: World Health Organization)

7. The prevalence of vision loss in Canada will increase by 30% by 2030.

The prevalence of vision loss in Canada is expected to increase by almost 30% in the next decade as a result of the aging population. (Source: Canadian Association of Optometrists)

8. Elton John has a collection of 25,000 pairs of glasses.

Elton John is well known for wearing a wide variety of unique, weird, funny, wacky and trendy eyewear. It is said that his personal collection is said to reach 25,000 pairs! Even after undergoing vision correction surgery in 2002, the acclaimed singer and writer is rarely seen without a pair! In 2013, he even had to put to rest rumors that he was still booking a second hotel room just to store his glasses.

9.  The inventor of the bifocal lens is… Benjamin Franklin!

Benjamin Franklin was not only one of the founding fathers of the United States, a writer, publisher, politician and naturalist he was also an inventor and is credited with the invention of bifocal lenses. He was exhausted from constantly changing glasses to see near and then far, so he created lenses that were half convex, half concave.

10. 285 million people worldwide are blind.

285 million people around the world are blind. Yet 75% of all cases of visual loss could easily have been prevented or treated. Unfortunately, this is due to the fact that 90% of blind people cannot receive or afford the costs of visual health care because they reside in low-income countries. (Source: World Health Organization)


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