"Here lies Salvino d'Armato of the Armati of Florence. - inventor of the spectacles" - 1337 AD.
(I have been to Florence several times and never found this plaque, so if any of you do find it then please let me know where it is located and I will give you a reduction of the cost of your laser eye surgery - SJD)
Many thanks to Don who sent me this (Sept 2002) from the website at History of Ophthalmology:
Thus while Alexander da Spina, a Dominican monk, is generally accepted as the re-inventor of glasses, the original inventor is lost to history. It is in fact doubtful whether there was such as one; it is just as likely that the value of glasses was found empirically towards the end of the 13th century owing to the accidental use of the somewhat plano-convex glass of some forms of window-plane. Bacon, who had the requisite theoretical knowledge, did not apparently get as far as glasses, whilst the claims for Salvino Armato of Florence are largely based on the excessive zeal of a Florentine historian, Domenico Manni.
Manni relates that a Florentine antiquary saw a tomb-stone inscription in the now demolished church of St. Maria Maggiore at Florence which read:: "Here rests Salvino d'Armato of the Armati of Florence, the inventor of spectacles. God pardons his sins. A.D. 1317." Manni held that Armato was the secretive inventor spoken of in the references to da Spina, and this flimsy view has somehow gained widespread acceptance.
Picture 1 - Nuremberg 1993 - first illustration of glasses "The newly invented optik glasses are immoral, since they pervert the natural sight and make things appear in an unnatural and false light" Mr Cross - vicar of Chew Magna, Somersetshire, 13th Century.
Pictures 2 & 3 - Victorian eye surgery for myopia. It works by flattening the cornea physically. This is also the basis for orthokeratology - the practice of fitting tight hard contact lenses to be work only when asleep, flattening the cornea which remains flatter during most of the next day!
Picture 4 - Egyptian Eye Surgery