Night vision goggles, contact lenses, plastic eyeglasses and a variety of medical and surgical procedures top the list of inventions and developments that have impacted our vision. But as we welcome a new year, let’s take a look at one idea that’s just pure fun: New Year’s novelty glasses. A story in the Dec. 15 issue of The Wall Street Journal offers up some history of these goofy glasses. Turns out they have been around since 1991, when two songwriters from Seattle came up with the idea just after the ball dropped on 1990. They sold about 500 pairs of glow-in-the-dark 1991 glasses in Times Square that New Year’s Eve. Today, you can’t watch even five minutes of Times Square celebrations without catching a glimpse of someone looking out of a numbered hole. Of course copycat glass designers quickly came on the scene. According to the article, “Sclafani and Cicero claim to have sold over a million frames before finally bowing out of the New Year’s glasses game in 2009.” And to give you just one more chuckle in these early days of 2011, we take a look back at another vision invention. Although completely fictional, it made millionaires before users saw a bit of a problem with the device. Back on Dec. 14, 1979, Steve Martin rolled onto the big screen in “The Jerk.” A comedy about nit-wit Navin Johnson who creates the Opti-grab, a handle to keep eyeglasses perched on the nose. A seemingly good idea, it turned out the Opti-grab left its users cross-eyed – and Navin paying out a big settlement. Maybe we’ll just stick with glasses in the shape of the year.
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