Back in February of 2017, the sales and editorial team at VM got the bright idea to put out a weekend edition and we called it, what else, VMAIL Weekend. At the time, it seemed like a scary premise to add a 6th newsletter to our weekly news and feature-writing arsenal but in retrospect, it was a bold and rewarding move. Our biggest challenge with Weekend has always been coming up with ideas for our anchor feature called Today’s Read. The TR was always meant to be a feature-driven story that readers could curl up with on a Saturday morning along with a cup of hot coffee. Six years later, it turns out the TRs, and VMAIL Weekend in particular, have produced some of our most popular stories ever.

So in the spirit of In Case You Missed It, here are our Top 5 Most Read Today’s Read features. They run the gambit from: fun facts about the Super Bowl, saving the planet from our contact lens garbage, saluting Black optical industry stars, the “eye doctor” for a groundbreaking telescope and “birth control” glasses for the military. Happy reading.

1. Fun Facts About the Super Bowl

Let’s face it, football is a very statistical game. And as we all know, for play-by-play announcers and color commentators, there is no shortage of stats on any given Sunday. With only one day left until the season’s biggest game, VMAIL Weekend thought it would be a kick to list some fun facts about Super Bowl LVII as well as some stats from games in past years. According to Sports Illustrated, Super Bowl Sunday is the second-largest food consumption day in the United States, behind only Thanksgiving. One in seven Americans will order take out, and 60 percent of those orders are for pizza. Well over a billion chicken wings are eaten, and it is estimated that Americans will consume around eight million pounds (4,000 tons) of avocados. Click here for 10 fun facts about past Super Bowls and Sunday’s big game.

2. How to Dispose of Your Contacts and Still Stay Friendly to the Environment

I’ve been a contact lens wearer for over 40 years. I started out wearing contacts that lasted several months and eventually graduated to daily disposable lenses, attracted by their comfort and no fuss maintenance. But looking back, I cringe to think of how many lenses and blister packs I’ve thrown away over the years. Every morning, after inserting my contacts, I put the blister packs in recycling and at night I throw my lenses in the garbage (NOT down the sink or toilet). According to the American Optometric Association, I am one of 45 million people in the U.S. who wear contact lenses. But after researching this feature, I have to ask myself—is there something more I could be doing when it comes to disposing of those used contact lenses. In a word, the answer is yes. Read More

3. How Black History Month and Optical History Intersect

NEW YORK—When we think about Black history, we probably think about the big names: people like Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. But Black history doesn’t exist exclusively in the political arena—Black history is everywhere, touching every part of our world and our lives, including the optical industry. Some of the most influential and intriguing names in optical history are also influential and intriguing names in Black history: people like Powell Johnson, Kenneth J. Dunkley and Dr. Patricia Bath. Let’s start at the beginning. On November 2, 1880, Powell Johnson of Barton, Alabama received a patent for an Eye-Protector. The patent is available to read in full online here, complete with a fascinating illustration of Johnson’s invention and how it works. Johnson designed his Eye-Protectors “for use of furnace-men, peddlers, firemen, and others exposed to glare of strong light, as well as persons of weak sight,” according to the patent. Read More

4. Meet the ‘Eye Doctor’ for the James Webb Space Telescope

Calling the James Webb Space Telescope an "eye in the sky" barely hints at its power, precision and vast capabilities. Launched by NASA in December, 2021 following years of research and development, and an investment of $10 billion, the Webb Telescope is by far the most sensitive and sophisticated instrument of its type ever developed, a pinnacle of scientific achievement. Its ambitious mission, to peer into space and provide clear images of distant planets, stars and whole galaxies that are light years away from Earth, is unprecedented in scope and complexity. Yet on a fundamental level, the eye in the sky metaphor is fitting. NASA scientists refer to its main feature—an expandable, 6.5 meter (21 feet 4 inch) primary mirror consisting of Webb’s 18 hexagonal segments—as the “pupil.” Designed to capture light from some of the faintest objects in the universe, the calculations and calibrations required to keep its “vision” sharp are called a “prescription.” Read More

5. The Birth of the U.S. Military’s ‘Birth Control Glasses’

Like many magazine editors, I’m also magazine fan. I read some of them online, but I still enjoy reading, and feeling, the print edition of the New Yorker, Guitar Player and a few other favorites. Honestly, I can’t wait to get my hands on it. When a new issue arrives, I start thumbing through it as I walk from the mailbox to my house. Last month, I discovered a magazine I hadn’t seen before, despite the fact that it’s been published for ages. It’s the Marine Corps Times, which bills itself as “the oldest and most trusted source for news and information about U.S. Marines, the military and the DoD.” One of the magazine’s article featured a headline that grabbed my attention: “How the U.S. Military Adopted its Famous ‘Birth Control Glasses.’” I’d heard of the infamous BCGs, but couldn’t quite conjure up an image of them, never having served in the military. I quickly read the article, which offered a short, entertaining history of BCGs, complete with a photo of a soldier modeling the somewhat thick, utilitarian specs. Read More