ADHD, Eyeglasses, and Stigma: Historical Vision Correction

ADHD eyeglasses
This image is a screen capture from the video. To play the video, look for it below.


Part 1 is here.

Through A Glass, Clearly

We absolutely must begin with this remarkable video: a beautiful baby gets a peek through eyeglasses, for the very first time:

Now for a bit of history about eyeglasses.

Crude attempts at vision correction date back to ancient Rome. What we would recognize as eyeglasses, however, debuted in the 13th century. By that time, thanks to the invention of glass, more experimentation could take place.

How is it then, in the 21st Century, young children are often stigmatized for wearing eyeglasses?  More about that in a minute.

Historical Eyewear Highlights

Let’s first examine some highlights in vision-correction history.

ADHD, Eyeglasses, and Stigma: Part 2
The Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca used water-filled glass globes to magnify text as early as 4 B.C


ADHD, Eyeglasses, and Stigma: Part 2
About 1,000 years ago, the few people having the need or ability to read and write were monks. As they aged, reading and writing in poorly lit rooms became very difficult. The monks then relied on “Reading Stones”: a half-section of a polished round of quartz. Today we’d call them plano-convex, or magnifying, lenses. —adapted from History of Glasses,


ADHD, Eyeglasses, and Stigma: Part 2
Venetian glassmakers began making spectacles by the end of the 13th century. The glasses consisted of two magnifying lenses connected by hinge or pivot mechanism. typically made from wood or metal. Paintings of monks using these eyeglasses date to the mid-13th century.


ADHD, Eyeglasses, and Stigma: Part 2
Was this helmet worn by nearsighted Henry XIII or the court fool? Unclear. But note the golden-hinged glasses perched on the prominent nose. —from The Pragmatic Costumer


ADHD, Eyeglasses, and Stigma: Part 2
Marilyn Monroe, wearing the glasses she reportedly could see very little without.

Stigma: Don’t Make a Spectacle of Yourself!

It took a few hundred years to perfect eyeglass design but much longer to erase the stigma.

That’s right, the stigma from wearing eyeglasses. To avoid making “spectacles” of themselves, many people preferred stumbling around.

These days we call eyeglasses eyewear—chic accessories for those who need them, and vanity items for some who don’t. Eye exams take place routinely, and few question the necessity of vision correction.

No one suggests: “If you can’t see well enough to read, then you need to take fish oil and stop eating processed food.”

[advertising; not endorsement] [advertising; not endorsement]

Sure, healthy habits are important for every organ. I regularly do eye exercises to avoid eyestrain. But you rarely hear anti-ADHD-style rhetoric applied to eyeglasses—at least with adults.

With young children, it’s another story.

ADHD eyeglasses

ADHD or Eyeglass Stigma:

Still Fair Game, for Children

Ann Zawistoski encountered “eyeglass stigma” when her little girl started wearing glasses at 14 months, for farsightedness.

Ann then founded a community called  Little Four Eyes,  for parents of young kids in glasses, patches, and contacts. She co-founded the Great Glasses Play Day (first week of May) to help end the stigma of wearing eyeglasses and “celebrate the great things that glasses can do for our children”:

  • Glasses help our children to see well, they do not define our children’s intelligence or abilities.
  • Glasses can be a way for our children to express their personality and individuality, but they do not define our children’s personalities.
  • Simply put, glasses help our children to do what they love, better!

Sound familiar?

Some toddlers wear glasses. And some toddlers take medication for ADHD (see “Pt 1: The Truth Behind the ‘10,000s Toddlers’ ‘Report”)

Are we clear?

The series continues with Part 3: Vision is also a function of the brain

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

[advertising; not endorsement]
[advertising; not endorsement]
Stay in Touch!
Ride the ADHD Roller Coaster
Without Getting Whiplash!
Receive Gina Pera's award-winning blog posts and news of webinars and workshops.
P.S. Your time and privacy—Respected.
No e-mail bombardment—Promised.
No Thanks!