What are Glassless Glasses?

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  • Written By: Devon Pryor
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  • Last Modified Date: 22 December 2019
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Aside from being a contradiction in terms, glassless glasses are eyeglasses that have no lens. Glassless glasses were a short-lived trend in 1965 in the United States. They were worn by young people as way of making fun of adults, among whom it was popular to wear eyeglasses with very thick rims. These thick-rimmed glasses were often called “Clark Kent” glasses in reference to the Superman comic character. As a means of mockery, the thick frames were worn without the glass, presumably because the wearer did not actually need glasses.

Although the frame styles of eyeglasses usually follow fashion trends, glassless glasses can be thought of as a trend all their own. The fashion aspect here would lie in the fact that glassless glasses, having no lens, are nothing more than an accessory. Without the glass lens, glasses offer no aid to the weak eye, nor protection from the sun or wind. They are, therefore, merely an item used to create a certain look. Glassless glasses are thought to have been seen for the first time in California, in 1965.

Glassless glasses, along with other superfluous style accessories, quickly lost popularity in the later 1960’s. This may have been due to the highly political climate among youth at the time, who turned to fashion styles that held some kind of political or social meaning, such as love beads, peace signs, or images of admired social figures on clothing.


Glassless glasses were rarely seen after the 1960’s, as wearing eyeglasses went increasingly out of style. Contact lenses, invented over a decade before in 1947, began to replace the use of glasses. Contact lenses continue to be popular among those who dislike the look of glasses frames on the face.

Glassless glasses are not the only type of glasses that offer no vision assistance or protection for the eyes. For example, some glasses have lenses that are non-prescription. This means that they do not alter the eyesight of the person wearing them. These types of glasses may be clear or colored. Colored glasses are simply glasses with lenses that are tinted as a novelty. Colored glasses are different, perhaps, than sunglasses. Sunglasses have lenses that are polarized, block UV rays or are tinted in a dark enough color to block out the suns rays and relieve eyestrain when the sun is very bright.

There are also glasses that offer UV protection only. The lenses of these glasses are usually clear, and do not alter eyesight. Perhaps the opposite of glassless glasses are those eyeglasses that offer nearly everything a glasses wearer could want. For example, the lenses of some eyeglasses offer UV protection, polarization, prescription, and also tinting.


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Post 3

@clintflint - I have to wear glasses and I would do anything to not have to wear them, to be honest. They are mostly a pain and I kind of think it's annoying that some people wear them as a fashion statement.

I always thought that glassless glasses was referring to plastic lenses rather than no lenses at all, anyway.

Post 2

@Mor - I don't think it's necessarily an attempt to look cool. I happen to think people in glasses look pretty cute and I know that's partially because I associate them with reading and intelligence (because that's the media stereotype) but I don't think it's necessarily that bad for someone to wear them purely for aesthetics. I mean, a lot of what we wear is purely for aesthetics.

And it's better for people to go without glass in the frames if they are vintage or anything like that, because there's a possibility that the old lenses will focus sun in their eyes, which can lead to damage.

If they are a new pair then it's not hard at all to order them with plain lenses and you can even get anti-glare or UVA protection added, which gives you an additional reason to be wearing them.

Post 1

You really have to be trying to make a point if you wear a pair of glasses without lenses in them, because it's pretty obvious when the glass isn't there.

I've seen this become a bit popular again recently with the rise of hipster fashion, although more often they seem to opt for wearing glasses with heavy frames and plain glass, rather than forgoing the lenses altogether.

I've never been able to understand this attempt to look grungy and the "opposite of cool" but I guess I'm not the one they're doing it for.

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