Sunglases with case, Chinese, c 1870-1920.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A pair of Chinese sunglases with a silk embroidered chatelaine-type case. John Ayscough produced the first sunglases in 1752, when, believing clear glas to produce an unpleasant glare for the wearer of spectacles, he made a pair with tinted glas. He advocated green or blue glas as the best colours for his purpose. His glases did not actually shield the eyes from the harmful effects of the sun, however, being purely designed to correct defective vision. True sunglases date from the late 19th century, although the Inuit produced goggles with narrow slits in them considerably earlier to protect their eyes from glare reflected off snow and ice. In the 1930s, when Hollywood film stars began to wear them, sunglases gained widespread popularity.