100 Years Of Disruptive Innovators in Eyecare History

The Optical Journal - Optical News With Independent Views

We started a game-changing optical timeline and quickly realized that to gather all game-changers or AKA ‘disruptive innovators’ in eyecare over the last 100 years is a monumental process. That said, we have not included all innovations in: surgical procedures, medical technology, lab equipment, medical equipment, eyewear, contact lenses, lenses, optical retailers, advertising, online shopping, internet, vision problems and more. Disclaimer: this is to the best of our knowledge.

1902 Optician Kit available from Sears Roebuck
1902 Optician Kit available from Sears Roebuck

So What is Disruptive Innovation?  ‘That creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances. The term was defined and phenomenon analyzed by Clayton M. Christensen beginning in 1995.

Whether you like it or no, disruptive business actually can help all industries to do better. Today when we think of disruptive companies we think of eBay, Amazon,  Google, Apple, Skype, UBER, Netflix, who have turned their markets upside down.

Our list of Disruptors and a few more in the last 110 years.

1908: Prevent Blindness Founded

1909: The First Safety Goggle called SANIGLAS was developed by Julius King Optical Company in collaboration with American Optical. (See History of Safety Eyewear)

1910 Shuron
1910 Shuron

1915: Moscot Optical opens in New York City. Moscot is still in business today.

1916: Mail Order Optometry Ends in Georgia Gov. Nathaniel Harris signs into legislation an act regulating optometry. Along with various other requirements and restrictions, the state board was established to oversee the examining and licensing of optometrists.

1917: Persol Eyewear launched in France: One of the first eyecare companies to be known by their arrow motif on the temple. Start of Logo Branding.


1917: AO designs and builds 8 mobile optical units to support U.S. troops and Allied Forces in Europe during WWI.  These self-contained eyeglass facilities were stocked with all necessary frames, lenses, refractive equipment and machines for the fitting and filling of prescription and distribution of sunglasses.  Two white metal frames, “Liberty”  and “Victory” were put to service in the field.  A record of two and one-half million glasses were furnished to the US Government for the war effort. (via: Dick Whitney)

Shuron (established in 1895) also contributes to the war effort optical products and machinery for independent and new wholesale laboratories in the 1920’s.

1918: Artcraft Optical launched. Still in business today.

1921: AO launches first Lensometer. Forms of Lensmeter i.e. focimeter or vertometer, were made previous to 1921, but AO was the largest company of the time in the USA.

women at first ao lensometer 1920
Image: Dick Whitney

1922: The first 3D movie shown.

1923 Zyloware Eyewear launched by Joseph Shyer. Makes the first frame made of Nylon, one of the first to launch ‘celebrity eyewear’. One of the longest independent and family owned eyewear businesses in the US today.

Zyloware Invincible ad

1924: American Optical files first progressive Lens Patent

1921- AO Progressive Lens Patent
Image: Optical Heritage Museum

1926: Prevent Blindness launches first volunteer-run preschool vision screening program in the United States.

1926: B.Robinson Eyewear Launched in the USA. B.Robinson is still a family run and independent eyewear company today.

1927: AO commissions Norman Rockwell for advertising campaign for Tillyer lenses. The first example of artist collaborations in eyecare. The images are iconic and collectible today.


1929: Better Vision Institute Formed: People from ophthalmology, optometry and opticianry are elected to serve as an advisory board to the supply side of the optical industry.

1929: Liberty Optical (now Liberty Sport) launched with focus on sports Eyewear. Liberty Sport still in business today specializing in Sports Performance Eyewear.


1929: Fosta Grant (now Foster Grant) launched. The first mass-produced sunglasses. Makes sunglasses a must have fashion accessory. Foster Grant is distributed by FGX and which was bought by Essilor in 2009.

1930’s First contact lens mention in consumer magazine that we can find.

History of contact lens

1930’s: Atina Schinasi designs the first Harlequin Eyeglasses- Previously eyeglasses were round or square. As we know Cat-Eyes are still going strong today. See (Wikipedia) and Video


1931: Lissac (Silor) launches lenses. Lissac was a precusor to Essilor. Essilor was created from Essel (1849)  and Silor (1931)

1930's First pair of Electrical Eyeglasses
1930’s First pair of Electrical Eyeglasses patented 

1933: Franklin Roosevelt puts out executive order for all gold. Nosepads go from gold to Celluoid. (Source)

1934: Safilo Group S.p.A. was founded after Guglielmo Tabacchi purchased Italy’s first industrial complex for producing lenses and frames in Italy. Safilo is still in business today.

1933 Night Driving Glasses advertising
1933 Night Driving Glasses advertising

1935: Arthur LeMay invents Electronic Edger (now Santinelli). (I do not know if this is the first electronic edger)

Diamaline Edger
Diamaline Edger

1936: The first Hard Contact Lens: William Feinbloom OD, devised the first plastic, hard contact lenses. By 1940’s contact lens technology had advanced so far that Hollywood actors could be fitted with contacts to change the color of their eyes for movies. (Wikipedia)

1936: First Reading in Bed Eyewear launched and still available today. (See Commuter Eyewear). Innovative because it brings attention to lifestyle dispensing.

1930 Reading in Bed Glasses
1930 Reading in Bed Glasses

1937: RayBan’s launched by Bausch and Lomb. Starts the Aviator Eyewear trend, which still is alive and and growing today. Via Wikipedia: 1929, US Army Air Corps Lieutenant General John MacCready asked Bausch & Lomb, a Rochester, New York-based medical equipment manufacturer, to create aviation sunglasses that would reduce the distraction for pilots caused by the intense blue and white hues of the sky…MacCready was concerned about how pilots goggles would fog up, causing pilots to become blind at high altitudes. The prototype, created in 1936 and known as ‘Anti-Glare’, had plastic frames and green lenses that could cut out the glare without obscuring vision. The also added impact-resistant lenses in 1938. The sunglasses were remodeled with a metal frame the following year and patented as the ‘Ray-Ban Aviator’.

1938: The first Bifocal and trifocal contact lens invented by Feinbloom from New York (Moss 1962).

1938: AO’s Dr. Tillyer accredited with additive power Phoroptor.

1938: Clearvision Optical is launched by Fred and Mimi Friedfeld. Clearvision is still in business today family owned and operated out of New York.

1939: Vogue fashion magazine claim Eyewear as the must have fashion accessory. (See History of White Sunglasses)

August 1930
August 1930

1940: CR39 Lenses Launched; (Wikipedia)

1940: First plastic contact lenses launched.

1940’s: The Optical Industry Association (OMA) formed to ‘help to promote a business environment to stimulate growth and influence the eye care industry. (Now The Vision Council) Members were manufacturers of ophthalmic frames, lenses, cases and optical machinery. Purpose was to grow optical industry. They provided the first forums, technical standards, statistical information, advocacy services, education, communication products and management support services.‘ (The Vision Council)

1940's Safilo Advertisement
1940’s Safilo Advertisement

1941 Victory Optical launches eyewear collection. After a hiatus they relaunch in 2011.


1947: Bart Levoy launches Tura, sets the stage of making Eyewear into Fashion statement. The first to start advertising direct to the consumer via fashion magazines.


1947: American Optical launches their first contact lens.

1947: Armorlite –(now Signet -Armorlite) founded by Dr. Robert Graham who pioneered plastic (CR-39) lens casting in North America leading to mass production of plastic lenses.

1948: American Optical launches their first lenticular cataract lens.

1948: Optician Kevin Tuohy introduces the first contact lenses that resemble today’s modern gas permeable (GP) contact lenses. They covered the clear front surface of the eye and thus were called “corneal” contact lenses

1950: First article on Variable Lenses (that we can find) Variable Lenses feature the latest style in Polaroid sunglasses for motorists. Each is adjusted separately to the required intensity by a tiny lever beneath the frame.

1950: First Heart Shaped Eyewear launched. Heart Shaped Eyewear is still an iconic look today.


1952: First Wayfarers by Bausch and Lomb launched. Still produced today.

1952: American Optical launches first glass executive bifocal,

1952 Consumer Report
1952 Consumer Report

1952: A.I.T. Industries launched. Still family owned and operated today. (See History of A.I.T)

1952: First Consumer Reports on Eyewear published (See Consumer Reports)

1952: Elsa Schiaparelli’s Eyewear launched (See Shades of Schiaparelli). Starts advent of unique and designer eyewear in the US.

1954: The First Optical Fair launched by OMA

1955: Essel (now Essilor) launches first frame design called Nylor.

1955 Better Vision Institute Promotes Eye Exams as Christmas Gift
1955 Better Vision Institute Promotes Eye Exams as Christmas Gift

1955: American Optical launches first designer and diamond studded eyewear from Elsa Schiaparelli.

1944- AO-Schiaparilli-Diamond-Eyewear
Image: Optical Heritage Museum

1955: VSP Launched in Oakland, CA, by a group of optometrists. Their vision was to offer affordable, accessible, high-quality eye care insurance to the world that promoted visual wellness and improved members’ quality of life (Wikipedia)

1955- 1960s: First Aleut or Eskimo eyewear seen. Courreges starts trend of  Space Age Eyewear Fashion in the 1960’s.

1955: Irving Rips of Younger Optics created the first seamless or “invisible” bifocal. It was called the Younger Seamless Bifocal. Younger is still in business today and family run.

1956: Wilhelm Anger founds Carrera Eyewear his sport goggles company.

1956: First article we can find on Eye-Tracking:  EYE REACTIONS are recorded by camera as headclamped testee looks at boxes for Folding Paper Box Association’s study of sales appeal of various types of packages.

1958: American Optical launches CR39 Aspheric Cataract Lenses.

1959: Introduction of no-line bifocals.

1959: First hydrogel soft contact lens material by Czech chemists Otto Wichterle and Drahoslav Lim launched.

1959: Esse (Essilor) launches Varilux

1960: Prevent Blindness launched. Convincess Congress to direct $1 million to blindness research – the first amount ever specifically allocated for this purpose.

1960’s: Photochromic lenses were developed by Roger Araujo at the Corning Glass Works Inc. in the 1960s, and the process was used in the first mass-produced variable tint lenses. (Wikipedia)

1960’s-1970’s  Foster Grant launches their Celebrity sunglass campaign, Who’s behind those Foster Grant’s with celebrities: Peter Sellers, Louis Jourdan, Carroll Baker, Claudia Cardinale, Elke Sommer, Anita Ekberg, Vittorio Gassman, Anthony Quinn, Mia Farrow, Robert Goulet, Julie Christie, Woody Allen, OJ Simpson, Raquel Welch, Terence Stamp, Clayton Moore, and Vanessa Redgrave.

1960’s: PPG launches CR39 lenses

1961: Stanley Pearle OD opens first Pearl Vision and Pearl Vision Express in Atlanta, Georgia. Pearle is bought by Luxottica in 2004.

1961: Marcolin launched in Italy: Marcolin USA  distributed by Optyl, then Marchon in the United States. Marcolin buys Viva in 2013. Marcolin was later by Marchon in early 1980’s.

1961: Leonardo Del Vecchio starts Luxottica in Agordo north of Belluno, Italy

1964; Wilhelm Anger (Carrera) develops patents  ‘Optyl’ material, a heat-hardened plastic weighing 20% less than acetate resulting in a reduction of allergic reactions and improved fit through a memory effect that provided permanent elasticity and dimensional stability.(Wikipedia)

1965: Fashion Eyewear Group of America Launched as a division of Optical Manufactures association.

1966: Silhouette Eyewear Launched in Austria. Distributed in the US by Avante Garde (now Luxottica)

1966: Bob Hillman Launches the first Optical Superstore known as Eyelab in New Jersey. This is know as the model for Lenscrafters. Many lawsuits go on about this concept.

1966: Wilhelm Anger launches Carrera Eyewear named after the Carrera Panamericana. Carrera first distributed by Optyl and then Safilo in 1966.

1967: Optyl launched in Austria, came to US in the 1970’s. Innovative material that was used in Carrera, Dior, Teri Brogan. Advertising showed a frame crumpled up in a bottle.

1968: Safilo launches Pucci Eyeglasses  one of if not the first eyewear companies to produce designer eyeglasses.

1968’s: The Art of Positive Dispensing” published by Monroe Levoy of Tura the first ‘fashion eyewear’ training.

1970’s: Elvis Presley wears Nautic by Neostyle; Made for Elvis to wear for his concerts at Madison Square Garden by Dennis Roberts of Optique Boutique.

Made for Elvis to wear for his concerts at Madison Square Garden by Dennis Roberts of Optique Boutique
Image: Graceland Auctions: Sold for $27,000+ in 2016 

1970’s: Tura starts Trunk Show programs with scarves. Tura was the first company that hired only women sales reps, they were so successful that other companies followed. (See History of Tura Eyewear)

1970’s: Optical Shop of Aspen opens by Larry Sands opens the first chain high-end optical shop with a 20-year-licensing agreement between OSI and Chrome Hearts.

1970’s: Logo launches their first Nylor rimless frame in the USA. The technology uses a fishing line for rimless frames.  Changes the look of all rimless as a drill mounts.

1971: Soft contact lenses introduced to the US Market

1971: First SunGlass Hut opened by optometrist Sanford L. Ziff. By 1986, Ziff had opened approximately 100 Sunglass Hut outlets, with sales of $24 million a year. Sunglass sales soared, eyecare professionals start prescribing sunglasses, many other sunglass stores open.

1971: Shuron sells it’s 16 millionth Shuron Ronsir Frame. Shuron is still in business today.

1972: Essel and Silor merged on 1 January 1972 to form Essilor.

1974; Carrera launchs the first-ever ski goggles with patented interchangeable lenses. Renamed to Carrera International and established a headquarters in Traun, Austria, and went to partner with automobile designer Ferdinand Alexander to develop the sunglass collection Carrera Porsche Design. Joins Safilo in 1996.

1974: Silhouette’s Futura Eyewear launched. One of the first iconic frames in the world over.

1970's Silhouette Futura
1970’s Silhouette Futura

1975: OMA (Optical Manufacturer Association) starts to get involved with government regulations.

1975: Oakley Launched- Opens the gate to performance sports eyewear and safety lenses. Anyone remember the nail through the lens display? 1980 saw the launch of the ‘O’Frame

1976: Gloria Vanderbilt, one of the first Licensed Designer Frame launched by Zyloware- Gloria Vanderbilt makes appearances at Opti-Fair (now Vision Expo) Starts the trends of celebrity appearances at Trade Shows.

1978: Alain Mikli opens his first design studio in Paris Becomes the first eyewear designer to put his name on an eyewear collection. Soon celebrities such as Elton John are sporting his artistic designs. Alain Mikli was bought by Luxottica in 2013.

Iconic Alain Mikli
Iconic Alain Mikli

1979: Dennis Burns launches Gargoyles with the invention of Toric lens technology. Gargoyles becomes infamous with Teminator movies. Gargoyles is distributed by FGX and Essilor company.

1979: LA Eyeworks opens on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. Innovative and colorful eyewear takes industry by storm.

1979: Austrian eyewear designer, Carl Zalloni launches Cazal Eyewear. Changes the design and look of eyewear. One of the most iconic eyewear looks today.

Vintage Cazal 951. Image: Upscale Hype
Vintage Cazal 951. Image: Upscale Hype

1980: American Optical launches stratch coat lens called Permalite.
1980: First ‘Actress Celebrity’ eyewear launch Sophia Loren by Zyloware. The eyewear collection is still  in existence today.

Sophia Loren by Zyloware
Sophia Loren by Zyloware

1980’s: Versailles Eyewear by Martin Copeland- launched, makes a new look with Drop Temples. Every eyewear company follow with drop temples included the Deeda by Luxottica, which went on to become one of the best selling eyeglasses of all time.

Image credit unknown

1980’s: Tura 311 launched with over 30 colors, starts new trend of multiple colors sales in conjunction with Color Me Beautiful Fad.

Tura 311

1980’s: Laura Biagiotti Eyewear launched- First eyewear launched with straight top browline. Every eyewear company follows.

1980’s: Playboy Eyewear launched by Optyl– Sets off storm of fashion sporty frames with Playboy bunny. Racy and suggestive ads follow.

1980’s:  Luxottica’s Leonardo Del Vecchio starts  going direct by acquiring the eyewear distributors across the globe such as Avant-Garde eyewear in the United States.

1980’s: Polaris Faceted Rimless makes debut in the USA. It is thought that Lugene Opticians started this trend. Upscale retailers start to advertise in consumer magazines. Eyecare professionals learn not to prejudge patients and find that medicare patients will pay out of pocket over $600 to get this frame.

1980’s: Cartier Eyewear Launched: One of the first, expensive and Exclusive collection that once again shows eyecare professionals not to prejudge pocketbooks.

1980’s- 1990’s Luxottica starts pulling eye doctors together to form the first buying groups. Starts trends of mass discounting.

1980’s Luxottica Calendars were in demand. 

1980’s: Avante-Garde (now Luxottica)  launches the first second sales force division: Berdel which paved the way for Optyl, Safilo and Marchon to launch multi-divisions.

1980: First Daily, weekly or monthly contact lenses launched.

1980: Rodenstock launches a new lens called Cosmolit. These were CR 39 single vision lenses with aspheric curves on the front surface, similar to the earlier post-cataract lenses, but available for corrections down to plano.

1981:  Pearle Vision starts to Franchise stores.

1982: Martin Copeland Eyewear produces it’s 2 Millionth frame.

1983: Silhouette launches eyewear with SPX a new material.

1983: Lenscrafters Launched in the U.S with one hour lab service by E. Dean Butler. Butler sold the company to the United States Shoe Corporation in 1985. Changed advertising, changed eyeglass delivery, changed  customer service and changed the way consumers thought about eyewear.

1983: Risky Business movie launched, which sells millions of RayBans, saving Bausch and Lomb’s eyewear sales.


1983: Marchon Eyewear launched from old Luxottica executives, Al Berg, Larry Roth and Jeff White. Focus on customer service, no backorders and overnite delivery. Started the first next day delivery using courier service in California.

1984: Lindberg launches Air Titanium Eyewear. Most likely the first titanium eyewear collection.

1984: The Terminator movie launched which sells millions of Gargoyles. Gargoyles is distributed by FGX/Essilor.


1985: The OMA starts the  Vision Industry Council of America (VICA) to grow the optical market including suppliers, manufacturers, practitioners and optical laboratories. Now called The Vision Council.

1985-86:  Signet Launches the Hyper-aspheric Lens, changing the cataract lenses forever. (Now Signet Armorlite)

1985: The International Vision Expo launched taking over OptiFair, East, West and Midwest.

1985: VICA takes over the Better Vision Institute (BVI). The BVI founded in 1929 was  an advocate of vision care.

1988: Acuvue Contact Lenses Launched: the world’s first mass‐marketed disposable soft contact lenses. The first ‘minimum order’ contact lenses. Optometrists in uproar, many refused to stock the minimum orders required. They learned quite quickly.

1987: Oliver Peoples Launched- Founded by Larry Leight. One of the first wholesale-retail outlets. Established the first minimum ‘buy-ins and exclusive product with milage perimeters.. One of the first to wholesale and retail product, and the official licensee of Paul Smith Spectacles. Oliver Peoples bought by Luxottica in 2007, including their retail stores.

1988: Marchon launches Flexon. Neostyle and Tura are also carrying on memory metal eyewear. Lawsuit between Tura and Marchon.

1990: Plastic Photo-Chromatics launched. Changes the lens industry forever.

1990’s: Essilor launches Crizal

1990: Fast Grind International launches their first All in One Surfacing Equipment.

1991: Marguerite McDonald, performed the first photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK in Canada (Source)

1981: Introduction of Freeform Technology.

1990’s:  First silicone hydrogel lenses are on the market: Bausch & Lomb PureVision and CIBA Vision Night & Day

1990: Transition Optical launched with joint suppliers, PPG and Essilor.

1992: VSP launches Altair an insurance based eyewear. Consumers are directed toward Altair frames. Later Altair frames went on consignment with a minimum of 40 pairs. Takes up valuable board space and pulls sales from eyewear vendors.

1992: United States Federal Trade Commission declared (section 456.2) that optometrists be required to provide the patient with a complete prescription immediately following an eye exam, effectively giving the patient the choice of where to purchase their glasses from

1993: Sunglass Hut International, Inc. became a public company. One of the first retail sunwear to go public.

1994-96: First Online Optical Launched- Frames Direct and eyeglasses.com launched Frames Direct is founded by optometrists, Dhavid Cooper, OD and Guy Hodgson, OD. Eyecare professional are in uproar and refuse to do business with companies that are selling to them.

1995: Oakley goes public raising $230 Million.

1995: 1-800 Contacts launched changing the way the consumer buys contact lenses and sets off a war between eyecare professionals that lasts to this day.

1995: Luxottica aquires Persol (Founded in 1917) Persol goes from exclusive to mass-marketed sunglasses.

1996: Sunglass Hut claims they have a 30% share of the sunglass market in the United States

1996: Safilo acquires Smith Sports Optics of the United States and Carrera-Optyl of Austria. Breaks into the Sports Performance market.

1996: Eyemed was listed as a corporate domain. Luxottica reveals it’s plans to  start it’s plan to control eyeballs.

1998: Sunglass Hut enters e-commerce market. Changes the way consumers buy sunglasses online.

1998ish: Clip On Wars begin. Magnetic clip ons launched by Revolution Eyewear and Aspex. Lawsuits abound.

1998: AO introduces AO Compact lens with short corridor to meet demand of small frames. Eyecare professionals rejoice as they start bumping up adds to meet small eyewear market.

1999ish: VSP starts suing for tax credit as they are a non-profit. Sets off huge controversy (Tax News) Are they a Non-Profit or not?

1999: Luxottica buys RayBan for a reported $640 Million. Pulls it out from the myriad of distributors, spends millions to rebuild the brand. Now it is said there is a RayBan sold every 10 second in the world.

1999: Silhouette launches Minimal Art, the first rimless without a hinge.

1999: Luxottica launches Chanel Eyewear with a 40 piece minimum buy-in and a 12+ page contract with minimum sales and merchandising requirements. Eyecare professionals pooh-pah and then turn around and are sorry they do not immediately get on list. The list is 2 years in waiting. Changes the way designer and exclusive eyewear is sold.

2000: Coastal Contacts lenses is founded by Roger Hardy and his sister Michaela. In 2013, the company sold more than $218 million of merchandise.

2000: NASA choose Silhouette as their go to Space Eyewear.

2000: VSP launches eyefinity online ordering portal.

2000ish: Visionweb Launched, online ordering and practice managment software.

2001: Oakley buys  Iacon, Inc., operator of mall-based sunglasses stores Sunglass Designs, Sporting Eyes, and Occhiali da Sole. Increasing the direct to consumer market.

2001: Luxottica- goes public informing eyecare professionals that this is the way to raise money for their expansion. Stock price 2001 average of $16.48 and in 2015 $65.78. If we bought then, we would all be millionaires.

2001: Luxottica buys SunGlass Hut paying US $653 million. Includes 1,300 Sunglass Hut stores, 430 Sunglass Hut-Watch Station combination stores. (Wikipedia)

2002: Class Action Suits in California between Pearle and Lenscrafters seeking to overturn California Laws (SFGate)

2003: Zenni Optical launches with frame and lens package for $6.95. Also has affiliate program in which bloggers can advertise for them and make a commission. Eyecare professionals up in arms, find out RX’s are right on. Consumers rejoice!

2005: AO/Sola merge to become Carl Zeiss Vision.

2005: Virtual Try On Technology launched changing the face of buying eyewear online.

2006: Oakley acquires Oliver Peoples for $46.7 million. Brings Oakley into the fashion business along with more stores. Growth by acquistion .

2006: 1-800 Contacts reports net sales of $247 million. Luxottica buys 1-800 Contacts in 2014, increasing their hold on the direct to consumer market.

2007Essilor launched the Essilor Vision Foundation in the USA. This organization was created in order to run vision tests in schools to detect vision problems.

2007: Facebook launches Fan Pages starting Like-o-nomics generation and the future of advertising.

2007: Kanye West wears Alain Mikli ‘Shutter Shades‘ in his video Stronger. Sets off Shutter Shade Trend . Shutter Shades becomes Trademarked name.

Kanye West in Slat Shades (Shutter Shades is now a trademarked name)
Kanye West in Slat Shades (Shutter Shades is now a trademarked name)

2007VSP launches affiliate program direct to consumer (Source)

2007: Luxottica buys Oakley for $2.1 Billion

2008: First Optometry Yogurt Shop opened in San Mateo, California. News goes viral. Spurns new word form Yogurt Optometry meaning ‘nonsense. something that is rediculously untrue. Derived from strip mall signs for a frozen yogurt shop and eye specialist positioned too close together. “1+1=3? that’s yogurt optometry!” “so you say they’re p*ssing out money at the bank, eh? sounds like a bunch of yogurt optometry to me!” (Source)

2008: VSP Acquires Marchon, finally ending the previous two years of rumors, we can all rest easy now and go on to other rumors.

2008: Lens Chic makes splash with first pundit optical blog. Pisses off many companies. His/Her tagline Eye Overheard.

2008: The Optical Vision Site is launched, the first optical blog dedicated to sales and marketing.

2008: Coastal Contact (now just Coastal) adds eyeglasses, sunglasses and accessories to their online offerings.

2008Essilor reports revenues of $4.47 Billion. Continues on buying spree.

2008: Bionic Lenses Introduced by Harvey Ho, a former graduate student of Parviz who worked at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California presented the results in January 2008 at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ International Conference on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (or microbotics) (Wikipedia)

2008: Indiegogo Launches in San Francisco: Crowd sourcing platform is host to numerous optical companies.

2009: Essilor buys FGX for $465 Million expanding their market in non-prescription and prescription eyewear and online sales.

2009: The Movie Avator launches which spurns 3D lens technology and eyewear.

2009: Shwood launches: Wood sunglass company that pioneered innovative materials such a whisky barrels, baseball bats, pine cones, moss and other upcycled materials. One of the first to use social media to build the brand. A plethora of want-to-be- wood and bamboo eyewear companies launch.

2009: Kickstarter launches and gives all the want-to-be-sunglass-companies as Platform to get funding for eyewear.

2010: Ophthalmologist Sued by 1-800 Contact Lens

2010: Arizona Optometrist Wins Unilingual Lawsuit

2010: Warby Parker launches the first one for one eyewear company Shows the power of giving back, online sales and using social media to grow their business. Demonstrates out the box marketing and thinking winning over the millennial market.

2010: Essilor acquires the majority in FramesDirect.com. Essilor and Frames Direct then launch MyOpticalOnline.com, an online service that allows independent eyewear practices to sell their products online.

2010: Essilor purchases  FGX/Foster Grant continuing their pursuit of the consumer and eyewear business online.

2010: Chromagen Lens launched for dyslexics. Gives eyecare professional and consumers a solutions.

2011: Prop 65 in California spuns changes in the packaging of optical goods.


2012: Readerrest scores on Shark Tank (Source) Shows eyecare professionals, that the little things matter. Known now as one of the success stories on Shark Tank gathering more that $8 Million in Sales after Shark Tank.

2012: The First 3D printed eyeglasses show up online and through eyewear companies. ic!berlin, Ron Arad, Mykita take the lead.

Colors Of Birch- Custom 3D Printed Eyewear Design
Colors Of Birch- Custom 3D Printed Eyewear Design

2012: Sergey Brin wears a prototype of Google Glass to an April 5, 2012, Foundation Fighting Blindness event in San Francisco. Brings all the secret Smart Glass technology in front of the consumer.

2012: Sixty Minutes shows Luxottica interview, launching heated debates and setting off press on monopoly companies and evil empires. Seriously, this story seems never to end.

2012: Carl Zeiss wins Free Form Patent Lawsuit

2013: Luxottica buys Alain Mikli finally putting to rest years of rumors that Alain Mikli is being sold.

2013: Essilor buys 51% of Transitions Optical for $1.73 Billion. Launches huge consumer ad campaign on photo-chromatic lenses.

2013 Luxexcel Makes the first 3D printed lenses with optical frames. Demonstrates the future of eyewear is an all in one process.


2013Proof Eyewear turns down deal on Shark Tank. This was a game changer for them, not necessarily for the industry.

Proof Eyewear on Shark Tank 2013
Proof Eyewear on Shark Tank 2013

2013: Bohten Eyewear on Dragons Den: This first eyewear company in Canada that goes on TV to get investors.

2013: Warby Parker opens first Brick and Mortar Store. One of the first Click to Brick platforms.

2013: Marcolin purchases Viva

2013: Essilor buys majority stake in Eyebuydirect.com: Continues with online sales platform.

2014: Luxottica announces they will partner with Google for Glass

2014: Kering announces they will take back Eleven of the their brands from Charmant, Safilo.

2014: Frameri turns down deal on Shark Tank. Got to hand it to Konrad, he fights hard, eventually gets deal with HOYA.

2014: Luxottica buys glasses.com and 1-800-contacts, solifiying consumer bases and new markets to sell eyewear and contact lenses.

2014: Essilor buys Coastal Contact lenses for $430 Million, furthering commitment to go direct to consumers. The battle for eyeballs continue between Luxottica and Essilor.

2015 Essilor completes purchase of Costa 

2015: First Optician to be charged in death of boy in the UK. Boots Optician Honey Rose Charged with Negligent Manslaughter (Daily Mail)

2014: Google announces working on Smart Contact Lens

2015: First Bionic Lens Implanted 


2015: BPA Addes to California Prop 65 Lists

2015: Opternative launches first online refraction service in 27 states. Spurns feedback from eyecare professionals.

2015: VSP launches Project Genesis, their version of a Smart Glass.

2015: Lawsuit launched: Three leading national contact lens manufacturers are ganging up in federal court to try to prevent enforcement of new amendments to Utah law that they say are aimed at protecting Utah-based 1-800 Contacts at the expense of the U.S. Constitution…. (Source)

2015: EyeNetra launches Blink, an on-demand, in-home vision testing service that is the first of its kind (Source)

2015: Essilor buys ECP alliance group Vision Source

2015: Essilor buys ECP alliance Professional Eyecare Resource Co-Operative (PERC) 

2015: Novartis and Google work on two smart contact lens

2016: Essilor makes investment in eyecare alliance Opti-Port

2016: Essilor buys All About Vision, the number one consumer resource for all  things eyecare.

2016: Google patents smart contact lens

2016: Samsung patents Smart Contact lens

2016: 1-800 Contact Lens opens first Brick and Mortar Store 

2016: Essilor Launches Flashframe.com online portal for consumers

Disclaimer: There were many other game-changers and innovators in the optical industry. This is to the best of our knowledge and google. We welcome any corrections and additions.



NW77th Eyewear - The Optical Journal