Sunday, March 3Not Your Ordinary English-Tagalog Dictionary

What is Eyeglasses in Tagalog? Origin, Types, and Evolution

A pair of eyeglasses in Tagalog is called “antipara,” but most Filipinos today no longer use this term. Instead, they call eyeglasses “salamin sa mata,” where “salamin” means “glass” and “mata” means “eyes.” And as we all know, this piece of eyewear corrects vision and improves visual health. Eyeglasses can be a fashion accessory, too. 

eyeglasses in Tagalog
Eyeglasses in the Philippines

The exact origin of the eyeglasses is unknown, although glass existed 4,000 years ago in Mesopotamia. Yet, it is believed that Salvino D’Armati of Florence, Italy invented eyeglasses in the 13th century. However, there are no historical records to prove it. In fact, some documents claim it was a hoax and that his name did not exist at that time. 

Nonetheless, the first eyeglasses were called “rivet spectacles” and were known for being like two lenses stuck together. These early spectacles didn’t have arms, so users held them and pinched their noses to fit on their faces. They had curved lenses to help older people (usually 40 years old and above) see better up close, especially while reading. 

This simple design of eyeglasses went on during the 16th century, except for minor improvements. The lenses helped with both seeing things up close and far away, but users should still hold them above their noses. In the 1600s, some people used strings that looped around their ears, so they can walk while wearing their eyeglasses. 

It wasn’t until the 1700s that eyeglasses, as we know them today, started to show up. The lenses could be made of glass, clear rock, or other see-through materials. English optician Edward Scarlett invented eyeglasses with frame and arms (or ear hooks), sometime in 1727. These arms were made of iron or steel and held onto the side of the head.  

In 1784, Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals (also known as “doble vista”) when he got tired of changing eyeglasses frequently. He cut two lenses, put them together, and made a glass with one part for looking far and another for looking near. Peter Williams coined the term “bifocals” in 1824 but eventually gave the credit to Franklin. 

In the late 1800s, French eye doctor Louis de Wecker improved the design by fusing the upper and lower parts. In 1908, this method was patented by Dr. John L. Borsch, Jr., an ophthalmologist from Philadelphia who spent most of his career in France. The rapid evolution and improvements of bifocal lenses were witnessed throughout the 20th century. 

In 1959, a French engineer named Bernard Maitenaz changed how multifocal glasses worked by creating the first progressive lens. This lens was called Varilux, and it was a special kind of no-line bifocal. Also sometimes referred to as multifocal glasses, progressive lenses help users see well at three distances: close, middle, and far away. 

Meanwhile, the Philippines has a rich history of optometry. Dr. Jose P. Rizal, the country’s “national hero” was an ophthalmologist, and his mother was his first patient. On the other hand, Dr. Federico B. Sarabia was the first Filipino to study optometry in the US. He is also the first Filipino optometrist in 1906 and established the first optical clinic in the country.

Use antipara in a sentence. 


Ang liliit naman ng pagkakasulat nito, paki bigay sa akin ang antipara ko. 


 The writing is very small, please give me my eyeglasses.

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