Skip to Content

What are glasses associated with?

What are glasses associated with?

Glasses are associated with vision correction, style, intelligence, and various professions. Eyeglasses help people see clearly by correcting vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. They also protect the eyes from dust, dirt, UV rays, and minor impacts. Some people wear glasses as a fashion accessory without requiring vision correction. The stereotype of glasses indicating intelligence stems from the association between poor eyesight and extensive book reading. Certain professions like scientists, professors, and librarians have an image of wearing glasses. Let’s explore the different things glasses are linked to in more depth.

Vision Correction

The primary purpose of most glasses is to improve vision and correct common eye conditions. Here are the main vision problems that glasses aim to fix:

Nearsightedness (Myopia) – Difficulty seeing distant objects clearly. Glasses with concave lenses help bend light rays to focus images properly on the retina.

Farsightedness (Hyperopia) – Difficulty seeing close objects clearly. Glasses with convex lenses diverge light rays so they focus better for nearby vision.

Astigmatism – Blurred vision from an irregularly shaped cornea. Toric lenses compensate for uneven curvature of the eye.

Presbyopia – Declining ability to focus on close objects with age. Bifocals and progressive lenses provide magnification for reading.

In the United States, around 75% of adults use some sort of vision correction. Glasses are the most common method, utilized by 64% of those aged 20-39 and 86% of those 60 and older. Contact lenses are the second most popular option. Corrective eye surgery like LASIK can also treat vision problems but does not always fully replace the need for glasses.

Style and Fashion

Although glasses serve a medical purpose, they have also become a fashion accessory and style statement. Frame shape, size, color, and material allow people to coordinate their eyewear with their overall look. Thick, black rims were popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Big frames had a resurgence in the 1980s. Rectangular lenses and thin metal frames gained prominence in the 1990s and 2000s.

Some trends like cat eye, aviator, and wayfarer styles have persisted over time. Horn-rimmed glasses exude a retro vibe. Frameless models provide a minimalist aesthetic. Clear frames create a nerdy or intellectual look. Oversized options make a bold statement. Mirrored shades are sporty and cool.

The eyewear industry caters extensively to fashion preferences. Brand name designers like Prada, Gucci, and Ralph Lauren offer luxury frames. However, various affordable options exist as well. Glasses wearers today can choose frames that align with their personal style.

Associations with Intelligence

The stereotype connecting glasses with intelligence has existed for centuries. In the early 1700s, British portrait painters depicted nobility and scholars wearing spectacles to connote wisdom and learning. The link between glasses and intellect stems from the correlation between extensive reading and vision deterioration.

Before modern roles allowed for close-up work, poor eyesight usually resulted from prolonged book reading. Thus, headaches and blurry vision served as physical evidence of scholarly achievement. Portrayals of studious characters in media often involve glasses.

However, multiple studies confirm eyesight and intelligence are not directly related. Wearing glasses does not itself make someone smarter but only assists vision. Nonetheless, the ingrained stereotype associating glasses with braininess persists in many contexts. Smart characters like scientists, professors, and librarians frequently don eyeglasses.

Associations with Occupations

In addition to connoting intelligence generally, glasses have specific connections to certain professions. Here are some of the jobs most commonly associated with wearing glasses:

Scientists – Lab coats and protective eyewear characterize the scientist image. Glasses reinforce notions of studiousness and attention to detail. Famous figures like Albert Einstein cemented the scientist-glasses association.

Teachers – Similar to scientists, the stereotypical teacher wears glasses to signify bookish smarts. Tweedy jackets and glasses are hallmarks of professors.

Librarians – The librarian aesthetic encompasses cardigans, glasses, buns, and pearls. The glasses indicate scholarly dedication in this stereotype.

Computer programmers – Techies stereotypically wear glasses along with pocket protectors. This nerdy look plays off the link between intelligence and glasses.

Secretaries – Vintage secretary representations include cat-eye horn-rimmed glasses as part of the look. However, this stereotype has shifted over time.

Lawyers/Law clerks – To emphasize their studiousness and attention to detail, illustrators often depict legal professionals in glasses.

These occupational stereotypes reveal the persistent associations between glasses, intellect, and certain professions. However, many modern workers in these fields do not actually require glasses.


While originally intended for vision correction, glasses have developed numerous other connotations over time. They function as a fashion statement and style accessory. An ingrained stereotype still connects glasses with intelligence. Specific professions like scientists, professors, and librarians evoke the image of glasses. However, the links between eyewear and jobs or smarts do not reflect inherent qualities. Glasses simply help people see clearly. Their symbolism reveals more about cultural assumptions and portrayals than reality. With the variety of frames available today, glasses wearers can select options tailored to their preferences, vision needs, and personal style.