William of Baskerville wore a reading aid at the end of his nose to precisely study a book. What certainly elicited astonished whispers in the medieval abbey described in The Name of the Rose is today a common sight: eyeglasses. Back in the 13th century, glasses were made of beryl in addition to quartz and rock crystal. Thereafter, eyeglass lenses were found in many different shapes and sizes: rivet and scissor glasses or monocles are just a few of the many possibilities used to put the lenses in a suitable frame. Eyeglasses as we know and understand them today took hold at the beginning of the 18th century.
Carl Zeiss has been revolutionizing the eyeglass market since 1 April 1912 when it introduced PUNKTAL®, the first precision eyeglass lens. This lens enabled crystal clear vision for the first time regardless of the viewing direction. In 1935, the company patented the durable anti-reflective coating on optical surfaces which has been increasing the light transmission of the lenses and improving the vision of wearers since 1959. Beginning in 1970, the eyeglass lens manufacturer offered self-tinting lenses developed with its sister company Schott. In 1979 Carl Zeiss introduced a visual aid based on the Keplerian telescope which featured 3.8x magnification for those with severe visual impairments.
The company continuously addresses improving the performance and wearing comfort of glasses: this includes progressive lenses, thinner and lighter lenses and new coatings that repel dirt and make the lenses more scratch resistant. Nowadays, precise measurements and manufacturing techniques enable the production of lenses that are as individual as eyes. 200 million people around the world wear glasses with lenses from Carl Zeiss, with two additional wearers every second. They all benefit from the company's products and technologies that have been revolutionizing vision for 100 years. Too bad that William of Baskerville is not one of them. But then again, he was just a figment of Umberto Eco's imagination.
January 11, 2012