Using some sort of shades to cover or for medical treatment have been around for a very long time but its only been recently they've been used to protect the eyes.
Records have been found indicating the Roman Emperor, Nero, watched gladiator games through polished gems while in 12th century China, they wore flat polished quartz lenses to protect their eyes from glare.
Furthermore, judges wore these glasses to hide their facial expressions from the people they interrogated. However, there is a painting done by Modena where the subject is captured wearing what looks like sunglasses. Sometime in the 1600's eye glass manufacturers managed to create a prescription set of sunglasses.
Then in 1752, James Ayscough began experimenting with tinting lenses green or blue to correct specific vision issues but he was not concerned with protecting eyes from the sun's rays. In fact, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the medical profession used amber or brown colored lenses to treat the light sensitivity of patients suffering from Syphilis.
Hollywood stars discovered these glasses and were soon wearing them everywhere. In 1929, Sam Foster, yes the founder of Foster Grant sunglasses, began marketing his mass produced glasses on beaches at Atlantic City, NJ. He had his stand in front of Woolworths on the board walk and within one year, they hit the main stream.. These sunglasses were a bit different in that they were designed to protect people's eyes from the sun.
During the 1930's, the Army Air Corps commissioned Bausch and Lomb to develop eye-glasses designed to protect their pilots from high altitude glare. Bausch and Lomb settled on using a specific dark green tinted lenses which absorbed yellow rays, making it easier for pilots to see.
Less than ten years later in 1936, Edward Land , founder of Polaroid corporation, patented polarized lenses which protected the wearer from UV rays. He used them in the sunglasses his company marketed.
About the same time with World War II looming on the horizon, Ray Ban developed anti-glare aviators glasses which used the newly invented polarized lenses. About a year later, Ray Bans were marketed to the general population and Hollywood adopted these making them stylish.
Over the years, the styles of sunglasses reflected the current styles of regular glasses. Many years later, Foster Grant launched a memorable campaign "Who's behind those Foster Grants?" which made wearing sunglasses trendy. Then during the 1970's Hollywood stars made them even more trendy by launching their own brands.
After a visit to my eye doctor a few years ago, he recommended I wear sunglasses to protect my eyes from possible cataracts and to keep them in good shape. I'm to wear them anytime I go outside so I keep a pair in my car, my coat, my bag, or anywhere else I might need to have a pair, just in case.
Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.