Is there a meaning to sunglasses?

Is there a meaning to sunglasses?

August 17, 2016

Sunglasses are not something that most people think of as a “meaningful” item.   Naturally, sunglasses mean that your eyes will be shielded from the sun.  Today, with knowledge of the dangers of exposure to too much of the wrong kind of light, sunglasses provide protection from the sun and make it easier to see.  They can improve the vision, hide emotions, and even obscure appearance but answering the question “What is the meaning of sunglasses?” is deeper than that.

Perhaps the most important meaning to sunglasses is what they represent.  Modern-day sunglasses show us that around the globe, we have advanced as a culture.


The first sunglasses were made of polished gems and weren’t “glasses” at all.  The next time we see sunglasses in history, they were more like goggles.  Through the years, the evolution of sunglasses marched slowly toward the objects we have today but until plastics were invented, they were impractical.  They were heavy and inconvenient and difficult to construct.  The advent of plastic decreased the weight so that they could easily be worn on the face.

Injection molding 

Even with plastic availability, sunglasses were impractical to produce on a wide-scale basis.  The advent of injection molding allowed for repeated production of the same model in a rapid, mass-production process.  Injection molding decreased the cost by decreasing the number of hours it took to produce a pair.  Consumers could choose from a number of pairs – in different colors.  Injection molding brought sunglasses to the public.


Sunglasses have shown evolution in design.  Just as much as design of furniture has evolved, so has design of sunglasses.  Though most people would not think of it, the changing style, function and form of sunglasses has required science from a number of fields to exist alongside high fashion design.  Chemistry, physics, engineering, medicine and aviation have come in contact with designers of clothing and accessories.


Becoming part of the fashion landscape, sunglasses have been associated with particular styles, celebrities and social movements.  Certain styles have been associated with particular celebrities and remain so in our memories.  Notable styles have been worn by Audrey Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy, John Lennon, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Tom Cruise brings an image of two different styles.  


Though sunglasses are now part of the landscape and are considered vital, once upon a time, no one had sunglasses.  We did without.  Even once they became available, not everyone could afford them.  Sunglasses are highly affordable today and most people have more than one pair.  This is because in our world, there is plenty.  Though the cost is far less than it once was, we have enough resources to acquire them.  We have time to worry about what type we have, and we sometimes have time to avoid an activity if we don’t have them.