Ngram: Eyeglasses vs. Contact Lenses

For my Ngram I decided to compare Eyeglasses to Contact Lenses, mainly because I have been having my own struggle with my contacts lately but even more of struggle with my glasses so the two items have been on my mind. Once I discovered that contact lenses were created in the 1800’s I figured it could work.

Ngram The contact lenses line is pretty easy to understand because the first example of wearable contacts were not invented until 1887 and they slowly but steadily grew in popularity. Although, the graph shows them increasing after the 1890’s because it wasn’t until a few years after their invention that contacts were being discussed in books. It was a tad harder to understand all the ups and downs of eyeglasses throughout the years. I did find that eyeglasses were not that popular in the early 1800’s because they were a sign of old age and weakness and also expensive so many did not wear them or even know they needed them. As for the boost in popularity in the 1820’s I believe that can be attributed to a new style of glasses becoming fashionable and the old round lenses going out of style and so more was probably written about on the topic of eyeglasses. The sharp decrease after this was a bit more difficult to understand but what I think may play a role in this decline is the financial crisis in the United States that began in 1837. I couldn’t find anything specifically related to eyeglasses themselves but if people had less money to spend that could be a cause. The rise during the 1850’s was tricky to decipher, the peak hits at 1854 but no history I found for 1854 explains this. It could be that people are coming out of the financial crisis and have more money but I don’t really know. There is also the founding of two large watch manufacturers during this time and this may be a stretch but there could be a correlation that with new watches and their prices increasing the price of glasses fell. This could also just be more written about glasses in this time and maybe more advertisements of sorts. I really can’t attribute it to one specific instance. The falls after this time is easily due to the civil war in America along with other political problems through the world. There were wars in New Zealand and South America during the 1860s as well as political issues between France and Mexico. There are also wars with Denmark and Prussia and then Prussia and Austria so in all there were political and economical issues throughout various countries. After the 1860’s eyeglasses steadily rise reaching their peak at the end of the 19th century this could be due to the end of many wars and political issues. People had more to spend and literature also seems to be on the rise during this time.  As far as my settings I did it with case sensitivity and from 1800 to 1900 from the corpus English.


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