If history had to assign credit to half-a-dozen people whose eyewear choices have had the biggest influence on designer sunglasses, Elton John would have to be on the short list. As one of the most successful artists in all of music, John is known as much for his outlandish fashion sense as his ability to sing and write. Crazy sunglasses are synonymous with John’s fashion.
Step back and look at the man behind the music and you soon discover that his choice of eyewear is about more than style and show. His sunglasses were actually prescription glasses – at least until John underwent corrective surgery in 2002. In short, he wore glasses because he couldn’t see without them.
Inspiration from Buddy Holly
John admits that he was a big Buddy Holly fan as an early teenager. He began wearing horn-rimmed glasses at age 13, even though he didn’t need them, in order to emulate his idol. It turns out that a year-and-a-half later John began to develop nearsightedness. His glasses suddenly became a necessity rather than a way to honor Buddy Holly.
By the time John was ready to break out as a pop star in 1970, he had already developed an unusual taste for fashion. It wasn’t a big leap for him to start searching out the most odd prescription sunglasses he could find to complement the rest of his on-stage fashion. One pair led to another, and then another, and so on. And the rest, as they say, is history.
A Huge Collection
In one interview given more than a decade ago, John admitted to owning upwards of 20,000 pairs of prescription sunglasses at one point. His collection is now down to somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 pairs, but even he doesn’t know for sure how many pairs he owns.
When he wears sunglasses today, they are not prescription lenses. John still prefers different tints for different looks, but he can see just fine without the shades. What’s most interesting is the fact that most of us have no memory of seeing John without colorful glasses. It is a part of his public persona that we have become accustomed to seeing.
Medical Reasons for Sunglasses
In Elton John’s case, his sunglasses were not necessary from a medical standpoint. Yes, he did need prescription lenses, but his lenses didn’t have to be tinted. Clear lenses would have done just fine. On the other hand, there are people who wear sunglasses all the time for medical reasons.
According to Utah-based Olympic Eyewear, medical conditions that require the use of sunglasses include things like glaucoma, photophobia, photosensitivity, migraines, and brain injury. Bilateral vestibular hypofunction is a condition for which sunglasses can prove helpful by reducing visual stimulation that causes problems for people who suffer from it.
It should be noted that Elton John’s decision to wear glasses as a teenager did not lead to him developing nearsightedness. Science has proven that there is no link between the two. It’s also likely that John’s vision problems began at some point before he started wearing glasses. They just weren’t severe enough for him to notice until 18 months later.
And now you know how Sir Elton John traveled on his journey to some of the craziest sunglasses the world has ever seen. Thanks to his willingness to push the envelope, there are lots of other crazy sunglasses on the market today. Better yet, there is no right or wrong. Everyone is free to wear whatever sunglasses bring them joy – no matter how crazy they might look.