Roger Bacon, an Englishman and a lecturer at the University of Oxford born in the early 1200s, most often receives credit for the first known use and descriptions of a magnifying glass or lens.
Bacon lived and studied at Oxford and in Paris during a time of extensive debate regarding theology and natural-science studies.
Considered a radical, Bacon found scientific experimentation necessary for learning rather than accepting truths passed down through the theology of his day.
Though Bacon worked and published in many scientific areas, his most significant research and experimental contributions were those regarding lenses and their unique qualities such as reflection and refraction.
Bacon was the first to advocate the use of a magnifying lens to improve reading and to hypothesize that strong lenses, such as what later became telescopes, might enable humans to see objects extremely farther away.
Bacon originally designed his lenses to assist his older, farsighted colleagues so they could continue reading and therefore teaching at Oxford, because many were being forced out because of their poor eyesight.