Presidential Glasses through the Ages

Presidential Glasses through the Ages

They say the glasses make the man and for many of our former Commanders-In-Chief, glasses have been a part of their daily uniform.

With President’s Day fast approaching, we’re taking a look back at some of the most popular glasses styles of presidents of the United States.

From Washington to Biden, eyewear worn by the President has reflected the fashion and style of the day. While some presidents wore glasses for health reasons, others saw them as a fashion accessory that could be used to help convey messages and gain respect. As George Washington opened a letter before congress at his Newburgh address, he was heard to say, “Gentlemen, you must pardon me, for I have grown not only gray but blind in the service of my country.”

For many of his fellow patriots, this was the first time they had seen their leader in a pair of glasses, but as time went on, it became quite common for presidents to be seen in glasses. A sign of intelligence and experience, Americans would quickly become accustomed to seeing their leaders in spectacles. Washington’s unique gold round glasses are now proudly displayed at the historic Mount Vernon for all to admire.

great leaders wearing glasses

The trend of great leaders wearing glasses was more firmly set in stone thanks to George Washington. Among the possessions found on Abraham Lincoln after his death were two pairs of glasses and a lens polisher. 

Lincoln earned the respect of Americans during his time in office, with many optometrists offering their services to him over the years. It is believed Lincoln suffered from strabismus, causing his left eye to drift independently. This is a condition that can be treated today with surgery.

Fast forward 50 years and another president, known for his love of round glasses, captures the imagination of Americans. Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt was not only a president but a strong-willed adventurer and conservationist who spent much of his life protecting the natural wonders of America.

teddy roosevelt

But what many will remember him for is his round pince-nez eyewear perched on his nose. It was Roosevelt’s sense of adventure that caused him to suffer an eye injury in 1908. A decisive blow by a sparring partner while boxing caused hemorrhaging and retinal detachment, followed by blindness in his left eye. Never one to shy away from the realities of life, he was among the first presidents to be photographed wearing glasses, unlike his nephew Franklin Roosevelt (who also wore glasses) who went to great lengths to avoid being photographed in a wheelchair.

Round glasses remained a popular style well into the 20th century with Harry Truman adopting the trend as he took on the role of President. Truman had been diagnosed with myopia (nearsightedness) as a child and wore glasses his whole life.

harry truman glasses

Lyndon Johnson took glasses in a new direction during his term, playing with style and color in the television age.

Like his predecessor John F. Kennedy, who was often seen wearing stylish Ray-Bans, Johnson was a true eyewear enthusiast who understood they could be a fashion accessory. Johnson enjoyed changing frame colors and would alter his frame choice based on previous television appearances. One of his favorite styles was the wayfarer, a trend that continues today.

LBJ glasses

Are you ready for your President-worthy frames? Check out our large selection of men’s glasses online.

We believe in honoring the men and women who have served our country. That’s why we make it easy to find your next pair of glasses with affordable discount eyewear online. Don’t forget you can also enjoy an additional 25% off frames during February using promo code FRAMES25 at checkout!

From all of us at Specs For Vets, Happy President’s Day!

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