Most historians believe that the first glasses were invented around 1284/1285. They are not sure however, if he was a monk, scientist or craftsman but they all agree he was Italian.
In the 1300’s glasses were a luxury used by the rich as a symbol of wealth and power. However, when Guttenburg invented the printing press in 1456, the history of glasses changed. As the availability of books became widespread, the use of reading glasses eventually filtered down to the common people.
There was a long way to go though in finding the right pair of glasses for the individual to see better and in the seventeenth century, the Spanish invented the first graded lenses, which solved the problem of trial and error fitting of eye glasses.
Until the eighteenth century, people were either balancing their glasses on their nose or holding them with one hand. However, an optician in Paris added a short arm that extended to the temples and another optician in England then decided to extend the arm to the ears and this has become the standard shape of glasses to this day.
The first bifocals were thought to have been invented by Benjamin Franklin, but an English optician had actually invented them 10 years previously.
Although the idea of a contact lens was thought of in 1845 by John Herchel, it was some 50 years later when a German man who made glass eyes, blew a lens to cover the eyeball of a man whose eyelid had been destroyed by cancer. The patient wore the lens until his death 20 years later and he never lost his vision.