Spectacles, so entrenched in our lives that we rarely take the time to think about it. Where would we bewithout them? As our population keeps getting older and older, the relevance of spectacles increases.As people age, we all end up being farsighted. It’s a fact of life. A process that already starts at the age20 and is completed at around 45 to 50 (2). Think about it, what did those people do at the age of 45,before they invented spectacles? Had they become a burden to society? How where these peoplelooked upon back in the day? And when and why were glasses invented? More specifically what werethe technological, cultural and social preconditions that influenced its development? These questionswe will try to answer in this essay.First of all an overview of the history and development of spectacles is given. This shows how thistechnological innovation has been shaped through the centuries. It is the background that setsenvironment for the remainder of the essay. Secondly we will look at life in the early dark ages, andwhat life was like for farsighted, shortsighted and “normal” people. Thirdly we discuss theconsequences, intended and unintended, that the invention of spectacles had. Finally a short paragraphwith reflection and general discussion regarding spectacles is given.
The first mention of spectacles is by a man from ancient Rome by the name of Seneca. Seneca lived from4 BC till 65 AD and is said to have read "all the books in Rome" by peering through a glass globe of water(3). Taking a leap in time, it was the monks in the middle ages who developed the “reading stone”. Thiswas a segment of a polished sphere of rock crystal that was laid on top of the parchment to enlarge theprint. In 1267 a man by the name of Roger Bacon even sent one of these reading stones to the Popehimself to aid him in reading (1). In 1280 for the first time, the concept of combining two lenses was