Although some Ancient Roman writers made reference to eyeglasses of beryl gemstone worn by the Emperor Nero, the earliest framed lenses to correct defects in vision were made in China in the 10th century. They did not appear in Europe until the later 13th century and are first recorded in Britain in 1326.

These early spectacles were held in the hand or perched on the bridge of the nose. Rigid arms to connect with the ears and fasten the lenses were invented by Edward Scarlett, a British optician, in 1724.

The manufacture of spectacles then increased greatly and the quality of the lenses used also improved.

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