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Glasses or spectacles are frames bearing lenses worn before the eyes. Modern glasses are typically supported by pads on the bridge of the nose and by arms placed over the ears. Historical types of spectacles include the pince nez, monocle, and lorgnette.

Spectacles are also called eyeglasses in North American English, glasses in North America and Britain, and (rarely) frames or lenses. "Spectacles" is often shortened to specs. Also see usage of words for eyepieces for a more detailed examination of the different usages for these words.

Spectacles were originally made from glass, but many are now made from plastic due to the danger of breakage and the greater weight and thickness of glass lenses. Glass lenses, on the other hand, are much less susceptible to scratching.

Table of contents
1 Conditions glasses are used to correct
2 Glasses as fashion accessory
3 Other types of glasses
4 Quotations
5 See also

Conditions glasses are used to correct

Spectacles fitted with corrective lenses are a very common means of correcting focus problems such as myopia (nearsightedness, short-sightedness), and hypermetropia (farsightedness, long-sightedness). Myopic people cannot focus at long distances; people with hypermetropia cannot focus at close distances. Astigmatism is mismatched focusing horizontally and vertically. As people age they develop presbyopia which limits their ability to focus on nearby objects. None of these conditions is considered a disease.

Spectacles can be very simple. Magnifying lenses for reading that are used to treat mild hypermetropia and presbyopia can be bought off the shelf, but most spectacles are made to a particular prescription, based on degree of myopia or hypermetropia combined with astigmatism. Lenses can be ground to specific eyes, but in most cases standard off-the-shelf prescriptions suffice, but require custom-fitting to particular frames.

As people age, their ability to focus is lessened and many come to need multiple-focus lenses, bifocal or even trifocal to cover all the situations in which they use their sight.

Traditional multifocal lenses have two or three distinct viewing areas, each requiring a conscious effort of refocusing. These were originally separate lenses, as invented by Benjamin Franklin, an early eyeglass-wearing celebrity.

Some modern multifocal lenses give a smooth transition between these lenses, unnoticeable by most wearers. Other spectacles wearers sometimes have lenses specifically intended for use with computer monitors at a fixed distance. On the other hand, many people simply have several pairs of spectacles, one for each task or distance.

Glasses as fashion accessory

Spectacles are often regarded as unattractive, and many people prefer to wear contact lenses for that reason. Contact lenses also provide much improved peripheral vision.

On the other hand, many people are attracted to people who wear spectacles, and spectacles are available in a very wide range of styles, materials, and even designer labels.

Spectacles can be a major part of personal expression, from the extravagance of Elton John and Dame Edna Everage, from Groucho Marx to John Denver all the way to the varied professional personas of eyeglass-wearing knowledge workers.

For some celebrities, spectacles form part of the identity. American Sen. Barry Goldwater continued to wear lensless horn-rimmed spectacles after being fitted with contact lenses because he was not recognizable without his trademark spectacles. Drew Carey continued to wear glasses for the same reason after getting corrective laser eye surgery. British comedic actor Eric Sykes, who became profoundly deaf as an adult, wears spectacles that contain no lenses, but are in fact a bone-conducting hearing aid.

In popular culture, spectacles were all the disguise Superman and Wonder Woman needed to hide in plain view as alter egos, Clark Kent and Diana Prince, respectively.

Halo effect refers to the stereotype that the wearers of spectacles are intelligent or, especially in teen culture, even geeks. This is conception rooted in that the first people to wear spectacles were those who did a lot of reading in an era when most people were illiterate.

Other types of glasses

Other kinds of spectacles include tinted protective lenses, ranging from sunglasses, which protect the eye from glare and ultraviolet radiation, to specialized units that protect against extreme brightness and are used for welding and viewing eclipses.

Prescription sunglasses (term used by most laymen) or sun-spectacles (the term used by some optometrists), which combine protection from bright light with vision correction, have become fairly common. Some spectacles have photo-sensitive lenses that darken as the light grows brighter. They are sunglasses and indoor spectacles in one.

There are also safety spectacles which are made of rigid plastic and designed to protect the eyes from flying objects. Some of these may have a prescription as well.

Spectacles fitted with differently coloured or polarized lenses can be used to view three-dimensional images.


When you're a kid that sees through plastic
With a harness of elastic
So the girls all think you're icky
And the boys all think you're queer

See also