Four Letter Nerd

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GUNNAR Optiks Computer Glasses: Are They Worth It?

For the last few years my job has entailed staring a computer screens for hours a day.  Over time, the office I work at began “going green,” by shifting the workload to paperless systems, meaning even more of my time was spent staring at bright screens under fluorescent lights, and it began taking its toll.  At the end of the day my eyes would dry out and I would have a pretty killer headache.  After spending more time staring at my computer screens researching possible solutions I found GUNNAR Optiks.

According to a report by the Vision Council, nearly 70% of Americans suffer from digital eye strain, and those adults ages 18-34 report feeling eye strain nearly double the rate of those 35 and up.  Let’s face it, we look at screens a LOT.  Video games, computers, Facebook, iPhones, e-Readers, whatever the current equivalent to Angry Birds is — we take breaks from our electronic devices by staring at other electronic devices and our eyes hate us for it.

GUNNAR attempts to rectify the issue for us computer-savvy folk by providing eye-wear engineered to reduce eyestrain while improving focus and contrast.

Lets delve into what makes these glasses so special.  The lenses are designed to protect your eyes from dry air which causes, you guessed it, dry eyes.  They are also designed to focus light in a way that relaxes the muscles around the eye, lessening the effect of eye strain.  The lenses themselves are made out of a custom-blended proprietary polymer, which is supposedly as tough as polycarbonate (I have had my GUNNAR Optiks over a year and there are no scratches at all) and clearer than traditional ground glass.  The lenses  also have an anti reflective coating that reduces peripheral glare which also helps relax your eyes and stop the constant straining.

There are three types of lenses for different applications – Amber, Crystalline, and Outdoor (meant for viewing your electronic devices outdoors).  If you already use prescription glasses, you are in luck — GUNNAR also provides prescription eye-wear.

Amber is the most efficient lens at reducing eye strain.  It’s yellow tint offers the highest contrast while also diminishing the harshest parts of the color spectrum and minimizing screen glare.  Unfortunately (at least for me), they are BRIGHT yellow.  I didn’t go this route purely because of the aesthetics of the lenses.  I didn’t want to be given a swirly by my coworkers (I am not saying my coworkers are inherently judgmental… except you, Gary), but seriously, I was just a little to self conscious to rock these bad boys:

Gunnar Optiks Vinyl Amber

Instead, I opted for the Crystalline lenses, which are designed for graphic designers, video/film editors –basically anyone who needs to see in true color, but still want to reduce eye strain and fatigue.  Since these are the glasses I have actually been wearing for the last year of my work life (specifically the GUNNAR Vinyl – Onyx glasses with Crystalline lenses), these are the ones I will be reviewing.  Please note: there are many different styles of frames that range from super-hip/slightly ridiculous to ultra-modern to standard eye-wear.  I just used the Vinyl’s because that’s what I am familiar with.

Overall, the frames are constructed well and feel solid, although they were slightly larger than I had anticipated.  They come with a soft cleaning cloth that doubles as a storage bag (mine has gotten a grass stain somehow, despite only being in my cubicle drawer… but it didn’t come that way). It does take some time to grow accustomed to wearing them (the only glasses I wore on a regular basis were reading glasses in 3rd Grade because my handwriting was so bad they thought I had vision problems — it turned out that I just had terrible handwriting).  The first few days I noticed slight headaches and dizziness as my eyes adjusted to the lenses, but after three days that went away.  Since then, the symptoms of digital eye strain (headaches, dry eyes, etc.) have mostly disappeared. In fact, if I forget to put them on I really notice a difference after an hour or two.

Bonus feature: my coworkers nicknamed me Clark Kent/Superman (except that Gary guy… he oscillates between Drew Carey and Buddy Holly — don’t be a Gary, kids).

At $99, the Vinyl’s I got are a bit on the pricey side of things, BUT if you suffer from any of the computer/gaming related eye strain I mentioned above, it’s totally worth it (you are paying for the SCIENCE). The glasses hold up really well (after a year of use there are no scratches on the lenses) and perform as advertised.

Conclusion: Yes, they are a little pricey and yes they are worth the cost.  I love the pair I have and definitely recommend them to anyone that works with/plays on computers and/or or consoles most of the day.