But fashion eyewear wasn’t enough for this innovative company. During the World War I, American Optical designed and built an amazing and truly innovative mobile eyeglass fitting facility to provide optical support to U.S. and Allied Forces in Europe. The mobile units – eight in all – contained frames, lenses, machinery and refraction equipment to allow qualified personnel in the field to conduct eye exams and fit troops with ophthalmic eyeglasses and sunglasses. Through these mobile facilities, American Optical provided 2.5 million eyeglasses to the U.S. Government during the war.
American Optical expanded its support to the war effort in the Second World War to include goggles, gun sights, bombsights and other optical instruments used for military hardware, as well as eyeglasses. In fact, American Optical’s contributions in support of the U.S. military were so substantial that the company received the Army-Navy “E” award in recognition of its efforts.
Underneath that helmet, Neil Armstrong’s wore American Optical pilot sunglasses when he made that historic first step onto the moon in 1960
At least one Commander-in-Chief also benefitted from American Optical’s superior technology. A pair of American Optical sunglasses is among the collection of his personal effects on hand at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library.
“Made in USA” — it’s a beautiful thing.
Through a stroke of great luck, we’ve acquired a collection of never-worn vintage American Optical sunglasses similar to the ones JFK wore – Wayfarer look-alikes with real glass lenses. We offer them for just $252. Come in and try them on for a walk down the lane of American history.