Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Can You See Me Now?

by | February 16, 2014 | 8 comments

Eyeglasses were invented more than 700 years ago, by some unknown and unnamed person. Before that time, people who were either near or far sighted could do little to aid in their eyesight. Imagine heading out on a search for game and not being able to see more than five feet in front of you. Productive members of society had to quit working, writing, and using their hands after the age of about forty, and rely on the younger members of the tribe for sustenance.

Newsweek Magazine referred to the invention of eyeglasses as one of the most important in the last 2000 years. During the 1200s, Italy became known as one of the most advanced places for the medieval glass industry. The widespread use of glasses didn’t happen until the 1500s, when the city of Florence, Italy, led the way in producing affordable eyewear. Early spectacles were associated with wisdom and learning. Glasses in the 17th century were single lenses, usually suspended from a neck-cord. This visual aid, along with a pocket-sized telescope, called a spyglass, were often used at the theater, to spy on others in attendance.

In the 17th century, Germany took over as the leader in the production of quality spectacles. The frames were far superior to those coming out of Italy, although the actual lenses were still cloudy. Most of these early lenses were convex and the lenses were round in shape. It was not until the middle of the 15th century that concave lens, to correct nearsightedness, came into being, in Florence. Oval and rectangular lens became fashionable at the end of the 18th century. Frames evolved along with the lens, the earliest being constructed of wood, bone and leather. The earliest eyewear was made to be held, rather than affixed in place in front of the eyes. The first eyewear with sidearms came into existence in the early 1700s, in England. Today, eyeglasses are more popular then ever. Thomas Jefferson improved the bifocal lens, and now, trifocals are in existence. During the 1950s, with the use of plastic for the frames, eyewear began to become a fashion statement, a trend that continues to this day. But the true value of eyeglasses—that of providing clear vision—remains the true reason why glasses exist today.

Can you imagine life without glasses? A simple glance around any room will reveal that usually half the attendees have some sort of spectacles perched on their noses. And, if you are one of those wearing glasses and can glance around the room and see people, you can thank that nameless person who seven hundred years ago came up with a solution to faulty eyesight.

Blinded By Grace, which is being released March 3 by Crimson Romance, features a myopic hero. It’s not that he’s been ignoring the woman who has been in love with him for years. He just hasn’t been able to see her across the room from him. Here’s the blurb:

In 1858 New York City, Halwyn Fitzpatrick thinks he’s off the hook for attendance at the annual Cotillion Ball. He has no sister to shepherd down the grand staircase this year and no real desire to go through the rituals of courtship and betrothal himself. Besides, he’ll know the right girl when he sees her, especially now that he has new spectacles. But his mother has other plans for him. At 27 years of age, her son is in dire need of a wife.

Grace Wagner needs a husband by July, in order to inherit the trust her father has left for her. Her stepfather, though, has plans for the money that don’t include Grace, and the last thing he wants is for her to find a husband before she turns 21, thereby fulfilling the terms of the trust. She’s been in love with Halwyn since she was thirteen, but he hasn’t noticed her at any of the balls they’ve attended over the years. With the aid of his new eyeglasses, he spies Grace from across the room and they share a dance. Grace decides to present him with a business proposition that will satisfy them both. But, can a clueless knight in shining armor and a desperate damsel in distress find a way to turn a marriage of convenience into something more?

For more information, please visit my website, www.beckylowerauthor.com


  1. Neva Brown

    Since I just had my eyes lasered so I could see more clearly, this was of real interest to me. I never thought of how this could be used as a conflict in a romance novel.

  2. Angela Archer

    I know I’m glad for my glasses. Without them, I would be a danger on the road. 🙂

  3. Susan Macatee

    Interesting post, Becky! I hadn’t realized eyeglasses, in some form, had existed so far back in time. Your story sounds interesting as well with an eyeglass wearing hero. Best of luck with it!

  4. Deborah O'Neill Cordes

    Informative post, Becky. The last time I visited Monticello, they had Thomas Jefferson’s green-tinted sunglasses on display. They looked exactly like the round “goggles” used by steampunk fans! Best of luck with Blinded by Grace. As one of your early readers, I can attest to it being a wonderful read.

  5. joanna lloyd

    Great insight into the first eyeglasses, Becky. I am one of those who is very grateful for their invention. I can’t imagine not being able to pull on a pair of glasses to see something better. And I loved your book, Blinded by Grace, especially your myopic hero!

  6. Ella Quinn

    Loved the post. I really had no idea that glasses had been around for so long.

  7. Lana Williams

    Love the info on eyeglasses, and the idea behind your story! Great post, Becky!

  8. Marylou Anderson

    Hey Beck,
    Nice job.
    The arrival of Eye glasses certainly expanded an individual’s horizons. I can’t imagine NOT being able to see across a room; or across the road…good luck with
    your newest release.




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