The oldest and greatest optical company in American history.


AO’s founders believed everyone should have access to eyewear, not just the elite, and changed history by bringing spectacle manufacturing to the US. Since then, AO has originated sunwear styles worn by pilots, Presidents, and NASA space crews.

since 1833

Founded by Jeweller william beecher in 1833.

Beecher was the first in the US to manufacture steel frame eyeglasses. Patenting this technology he was quickly able to produce eyewear for the masses. By 1892 AO was the largest optical company in the world, with 800 employees producing 2 million pairs of glasses and 3 million pairs of lenses.

In 1914 AO was awarded their first military contract, producing goggles for US military pilots, which inspired the initial design and manufacture of the iconic aviator style in 1935. These contracts continued, resulting in 5 million sunglasses being produced for the US armed forces during WWII.

American Optical has been trailblazing breakthrough technologies and shaping the world of eyewear fashion with some of the most iconic sunglass styles for nearly two centuries.

In 1942 AO launched 'Cool-Ray' sunglasses in collaboration with Polaroid. These were the first polarized sunglasses on the market. By 1955 AO had broken into the world of high fashion, producing eyewear for the iconic American designer, Elsa Schiaparelli.

1969, the Original Pilot (then known as the FG-58) were the first sunglasses on the moon, worn by the entire Apollo 11 crew. Not only landing them on the moon but in TV sets around the world. 16 years later AO continued their work in the fashion industry, partnering with Oscar de la Renta to design his highly coveted 1975 eyewear collection.

From there AO has been a staple in the US military, for US politicians, and a mainstay prop in Hollywood to this day.