Jefferson also had an interest in what was then called double spectacles—or bifocals. Not all these were as fashionable as his shades. For instance, Joshua Reynolds’ self-portrait shows him wearing glasses that don’t seem to align with the ears but go above them and spread out. Doesn’t look comfortable, but is possibly a better option than wearing one pair of glasses, and having another pair propped on the head, as American president Andrew Jackson is depicted as doing.
Next time I grumble about the cost of my specs, I’ll try to consider it a luxury to have them. At one time in history, the option for reading once the vision started to fade would have been a magnifying glass, and even that could have been comparatively more costly than a modern pair of glasses.