There are some innovations in our contemporary lifestyles that have become so commonplace that we can’t imagine life without them: electricity and plumbing, of course, and a few more everyday implements.  What would you do without, say, your glasses/contacts/laser eye surgery?

If you use glasses or contacts, they’re probably the first things you reach for in the morning. You need them to read, drive, and sometimes just to make out the faces of your peers. But a long, long time ago – before electricity and industrialization and even before widespread indoor plumbing – you could get by for almost your entire life without having 20/20 vision. People tended to stay mostly in their own villages, with people and streets and stores they knew well, and many occupations didn’t require super-sharp peepers. But even though corrective lenses weren’t being used widely just yet, our ancestors did their fair share of experimentation and innovation long before old Ben Franklin came along.

Timeline: A History of Corrective Lenses

 


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