The function and fashion of eyeglasses | Small Thing Big Idea, a TED series

The function and fashion of eyeglasses | Small Thing Big Idea, a TED series


(logo dinging) (majestic music) I think that, at the time, Catwoman had a really cool pair of glasses in the Batman series
that was on television, and I wanted to be cool like her. It didn’t occur to me that glasses were really a medical device. (upbeat music) When light rays reflect off an object, and enter the eye through the cornea, your retina converts this
light into electrical impulses that are sent to the brain,
which interprets the impulses, and allows you to understand
what you’re seeing. Eyeglasses help you see. The earliest forms of eye gear can be traced back 4,000 years. Cultures that needed to adapt
to climates that were snowy created ice shields, and
they were made of bone, and animal hides. They had small slits for
people to see through, but no lenses. The first vision aid was
called a reading stone, and was invented over 1,000 years ago. It’s not exactly clear who
invented the first eyeglasses, but many people attribute
it to the Italians. Early versions of eyeglasses
were called rivet spectacles. They were two magnifying glasses that were hinged together
at the ridge of the nose. It took some time for eyeglasses to land on the perfect design. They didn’t really have sides, which are also called temples or arms, until about the 17th century. Modern day eyeglasses
feature a pair of rims that hold corrective lenses, a bridge that connects the rims, sides that slide behind the ears, hinges that connect the
sides to the frames, and on some glasses, a pair of temple tips for behind-the-ear comfort. In American culture, 20th Century cinema helped
popularize eyeglasses. Audiences would see glamorous
actresses and actors donning glasses to take
on a different persona. Sometimes a pair of
glasses became popularized by the actual person
that was wearing them, and then that personality trait was projected into the actual device. You have the aviator glasses, which showed a forward-thinking,
adventurous type of person. Glasses with heavy frames signified intelligence or nerdiness. Wayfarers signified this,
kind of, nerdy punk, the outlaw, the misfit. Glasses have become so
popular as a fashion device that some people actually don glasses without a prescription lens at all because they want to portray a certain attribute about themselves. Glasses are a lifeline to people. People that can’t see
well enough to drive, well enough to cook, well enough to read, rely on glasses for
maintaining their lives. And, there’s lots of other
objects in our society that have been created to help overcome various physical obstacles, and it’s only the eyeglasses
that have catapulted to that fashion statement. Wouldn’t it be wonderful
if anything that we use, any device that we’ve
invented to help our humanity, could also be elevated in the same way? (dynamic musical tone)

48 Replies to “The function and fashion of eyeglasses | Small Thing Big Idea, a TED series”

  1. Had my eyes lasered 4 years ago. Best decision I ever made.
    Buying a wheelchair for fashion while you are not handicapped isn't elevation. It is devolution and an insult to those who need it.

  2. I hate wearing glasses, to me, they are a cause of much embarrasment. Been wearing them for 30 years and honestly, i just wish my eyes worked properly.

  3. Been wearing soft contact lenses for over 45 years. I got them as a teen. The best part of ditching glasses was that I had peripheral vision again. Woo hoo! No more "tunnel vision" through a pair of frames.

  4. One thing I still don’t get is why we need to pay our prescription lenses and don’t have our healthcare system (here in Germany but I’ve never heard from a country where this is the case) cover it. It seems to be illogical; as the video says we need them to drive, read, walk or live our day to day lives (I have quite the bad vision and I’d never leave the house without my glasses on); anyone got an idea why we still need to pay for our lenses (frames out of the equation, most of them are fashion and a 10€ frame would do to hold them in place, I get that)

  5. I don't know if I'd say that "only" eyeglasses have become this. It's more common than with the other that I can think of off the top of my head, but there is another: the cane.

  6. I think prosthetics have reached that level. They are a huge fashion accessory for those with them who want to make them so.

  7. Whoever said "Guys dont make passes at girls with glasses"…Maury Povich determined that was a lie! 🤷🏾‍♀️🤓😉

  8. You are trying too hard to be Vox.
    Tune down the sound effects. Good sound effects should be like a good puppet master; felt by the audience, controlling the narrative, but flows seamlessly unnoticed.
    When working your animations, focus on the depth and quality rather than the quantity being exhibited.
    TED you are all about Technology, Engineering, and DESIGN. Put out works of amazing educational merit that is worthy of your cause and mission.

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