Some history of lenses

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By Richard P. Holm, MD

The oldest known lens was found in the ruins of the ancient Mesopotamian city of Nineveh and was made from polished rock crystal. The Greek playwright Aristophanes mentions the use of such a lens to burn holes in parchment in one of his plays. Allegedly, Pliny the physician used a similar lens to cauterize wounds.

A thousand years later monks started using “reading stones” which were sliced off sections of polished quartz spheres. Sometime in the latter half of the 1200s the monks put these reading stones up on their noses in what today we would recognize as spectacles.

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