A brief history of glacier sunglasses

On one side, the snow, the sun and the power of the wind. On the other, your defenceless little eyes. For thousands of years, human beings have constantly used their ingenuity to protect their eyes from the elements. Here's a brief history of sunglasses, best read indoors, not too close to the screen :)
inuits history of glacier sunglasses
DIY
The Inuit, one of the peoples most exposed to the elements, were the first to look into the issue. They created a variety of glasses made from walrus ivory, driftwood and bone, into which they cut small slits to allow only a tiny amount of light through.

The story also goes that the emperor Nero used to watch gladiatorial combat through polished precious stones. This was avant-garde in terms of style, but not very viable economically speaking.
Hide your emotions
According to the American sunglass community, the first pair of darkened sunglasses was invented in the 12th century by the Chinese. They were a crude slab of smoked quartz that was made to block out the sun rays. They were only made for to the very wealthy people in order to hide their emotion from other people when speaking to them. Also, it is said that these “sunglasses” were used by judges who were supposed to remain impartial, and therefore wanted a way to hide their eyes and their emotions.
first ever sunglasses in the world
Around the 1430, vision correcting sunglasses were introduced into Italy by the Chinese. They were darkened unlike the previous sunglasses to prevent the UV rays from entering a user's eyes.
First mountain sunglasses
 In the 17th century, during the first major expeditions to the Alps, people gradually realised the importance of protecting their eyes at high altitude. Harold Raeburn,  Scottish mountaineer and early Himalayan pioneer, one of the greatest mountaineers of his generation, wrote that climbers wore linen or cotton masks with holes cut out for their eyes.
One of the first major advances in the development of glacier sunglasses was the use of yellow-tinted lenses. These lenses helped to amplify contrast in low light conditions. However, the first frames were often rudimentary and did not provide adequate protection against wind and snow.

premières lunettes cristalliers chamonix lunettes de glacierSource: 1888, first crystal glasses / Julbo
It was not until 1888 that a certain Jules Baud invented sunglasses to protect the eyes of Chamonix crystal-makers working in the high mountains. A few years later he founded the Julbo brand, but it wasn't until 1950 that their first model of glacier eyewear really made its mark in the sun.

10 years later, it was Vuarnet's turn. The brand, born of a collaboration between Roger Pouilloux, a French optician, and Jean Vuarnet, a French alpine skier, took off quickly. The idea of creating high-quality sunglasses was born at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
Over time, manufacturers perfected glacier sunglasses by introducing features such as side shields to protect against the wind, lightweight materials for comfort and high-quality lenses to reduce glare. These improvements make glacier goggles more suitable for high-altitude conditions. During polar expeditions and the first ascents of iconic peaks, mountaineers continued to refine their eye protection needs. Glacier goggles became an essential accessory for adventurers faced with the dangers of intense sunlight, freezing temperatures and violent winds.
vintage expeditions in the alps
Source: The arts society
Today, glacier goggles are widely used by winter sports enthusiasts, mountaineers, hikers and other mountain enthusiasts. They have become a symbol of essential protection against the extreme elements encountered at high altitudes and in snowy regions, while remaining true to their historic heritage of functionality and durability.
Our Moiry mountain sunglasses, inspired by its predecessors, tick all the boxes in terms of eye protection, thanks in particular to its Zeiss lenses, titanium frame and removable side shields. Find out more about our Moiry sunglasses on this page.

Take care of yourself and your eyes! :)
Your Glacier Optics team

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