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Which Presidents Wore Glasses?

teddy-roosevelt-pince-nez

The surprising answer is that many a man who has held our country’s highest office has needed vision correction. But many of them preferred to sport their prescription glasses outside of the public eye. Even some of the youngest presidents, like John F. Kennedy, needed reading glasses, though he was also known to wear Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses more publicly

The two presidents who were most often photographed wearing their glasses were Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Roosevelt wore a distinctive pair of pince-nez, a style of glasses, which looks about as uncomfortable as it sounds, with a C-bridge.

Unlike Kennedy, who famously put the nail in the coffin of the era where men wore hats, Roosevelt was not a trendsetter with his glasses. The style of wearing pince-nez peaked in popularity at the end of the 19th century, the decade before he took office.

When Truman was young, a doctor told his mother he had “flat eyeballs.” He could read the family Bible just fine but had trouble seeing things that were far away. The historical record is conflicted over whether or not a bout of diptheria in his youth precipitated these eye problems. Truman’s glasses were rimmed with round lenses and a keyhole shaped bridge to the nose. The style was known at the time alternately as the Marshwood, and the Poor Boy. Despite the styles name, Truman was not indigent growing up, though after graduating from high school, he slept in “hobo camps” while working as a timekeeper for the railroad.

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2 Responses to “Which Presidents Wore Glasses?”

  1. HorseWithTooManyNames

    What about George H. W. Bush, who frequently wore glasses in public?

    Reply

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