The History of Sunglasses

Sunglasses haven`t always been used as a fashion accessory like today where we can find an endless variety of sunnies of different shapes, colours, and materials. Before becoming a stylish statement, sunnies had different purposes around the world and evolved from prehistoric times until today where you can buy sustainable sunglasses for a fair price at Rootz.

I am not sure if you have ever delved about it, but as a sunnies brand we have and we would like to bring a bit more about the origins of the sunglasses from prehistoric times and its evolution along with history.   

37 – 68 AD – Nero’s Emerald  

The legend says that in the 1st century Roman Emperor Nero used to watch the gladiators fight through polished gemstones to eliminate the glare of the sun and his near-sightedness. Although arguable, lots of people mention his “emerald” as the first sunnies.

1050 – Snow Goggles 

Inuit Goggles

The Inuit and Yupik peoples (indigenous people from the Arctic Region) developed the first “sunglasses” in history to protect their eyes from sunlight. The accessory was made of driftwood, bone, walrus ivory, etc. The goggles fit tightly against the face so that the only light entering is through the slits, and soot is sometimes applied to the inside to help cut down on glare. The first artifact is said to date back to 2000 BC and they were discovered on Baffin Island in Canada. 

1200 - 1300 – Smoky Quartz 

Smoky Quartz

The Chinese made a slight improvement over the Inuit goggles After years without progress. In the 12th-century, court judges started using smoky quartz lenses sunglasses. Known as Ai Tai meaning `dark clouds covering the sun` it was used to conceal their facial expressions and see impartial and expressionless during trials. 

1752 –  Syphilis Spectacles 


In the mid-1700s English optician James Ayscough started experimenting with blue and green tinted lenses in spectacles to correct vision impairments and to alleviate light sensitivity for those inflicted with syphilis. These ‘prescription sunglasses’ often came with a metal nose attachment – to replace the disfigured nose of their wearer – and began a long association with sickness. 

1790 – Goldoni Sunglasses 


The first tinted spectacles intended specifically for sun protection were worn in Venice, Italy in the late 18th century. They were known as Goldoni Glasses, named after the famous playwright Carlo Goldoni, who popularised the style. They were most often worn by gondoliers who needed protection while working in the sunny canals of Venice. 

1929 – Atlantic City Beachgoers 


In 1929 Sam Foster start selling trendy sunglasses for beachgoers in Atlantic City, US. Sales were boosted by advertisements featuring Hollywood celebrities. It didn’t take long for Foster Grant sunglasses to take over all of New Jersey! 

1936 – Ray-Ban Aviators 


The iconic model started as an alternative to the foggy goggles worn by pilots when flying high altitudes. After a few prototypes, the model was officially launched in 1939 and was very popular in the military. Today, this timeless sunglass is one of the most popular of all time.

1939 – Polaroid Lenses

Polaroid Lenses

In the late 30’s in Massachusetts, the American scientist Edwin H. Land developed a filter to the lenses able to reduce the glare from the light, increasing visibility and eye comfort. The discovery marked the transaction of the first polarised sunglasses. 

1970 – UV Standard 

UV Protection 

In the 70’s many countries such as Australia, the US, and some in Europe have adopted standards of ultraviolet protection for sunglasses lenses in order to avoid the harmful sun exposure risks to the eye.

2019 – Rootz Sunglasses  

Rootz Sunglasses

In December 2019, Rootz sunglasses became with the idea of selling sustainable sunglasses offering quality and good price. With a sustainable purpose, we aim to be more than just a sunglasses brand. 

That is why we plant a tree and donate 10% of our profit to each pair we sell. With almost two years we have planted more than 275 trees and donated more than $1,230.

You can check our wooden sunglasses from our previous collections at our website. Our new collection will be released soon.  

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