Are opticians not respected


Women in science had a hard time in the 20th century. So it's no wonder that the name of Dr. A. Estelle Glancy is hardly known - even though it revolutionized the world of optics. The American scientist developed the lensmeter and applied for a patent for the first varifocals.

Glancy was one of the few women to do her PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in 1913: this would have been the start of her research career. However, it was almost impossible for Glancy to find a position as a researcher. Because as a woman she was not respected in the male domain. In 1918, when she almost gave up looking for a job, she got the opportunity under Dr. Edgar Tillyer worked for American Optical, the largest supplier of glasses in the United States. In the shadow of your male colleagues, she made a significant contribution to the company's most important research projects. Dr. Tillyer would later become famous in the field of optics, but his breakthrough would not have been possible without Glancy's mathematical calculations.

Estelle Glancy was a true pioneer in the optical industry and with her know-how she laid the foundation for many important inventions in the optical sector. As early as 1924, she submitted a patent for progressive lenses - a groundbreaking invention. It was not until 50 years later that progressive lenses were accepted as an alternative to bifocal and trifocal variants. Today varifocals make it easier for people around the world to see. But not only that: She developed the lensometer (synonym: lensometer), the first instrument to reliably measure the performance of a spectacle lens. This technology is still current today and is used by opticians around the world.

Photo: OpticalHistorian (License: CC BY-SA 4.0)

Subject archive