I was three years younger when I first reviewed the Gunnar Optiks eye strain-reducing glasses, meaning that I lived in a time when I didn’t regularly get eye strain and tension headaches from sitting at a computer all day. Oh the halcyon days of youth and pain-free marathon gaming sessions. That time is over, which is why these Gunnar Prescription glasses are part of my entertainment ensemble now.
To start, let’s be clear on these Gunnar glasses are supposed to do. Because these glasses aren’t actually for everyone that plays games or stares at a computer for long hours (unlike what their marketing says), I’ll define who I think actually needs them.
Gunnar’s website claims they protect your vision by filtering out “artificial” light, and relaxes your eyes, so you get tired slower. They also claim that it prevents dryness, but I’m not quite sure how it would go about doing that, since the glasses aren’t like those James Worthy or Horace Grant goggles that encase your eyes—they’re just normal glasses.
Edit: The people at Gunnar told me this, about how these help your eyes stay moist.
They work to prevent damage for all people, whether or not you may have full-blown CVS – preventative measures are key to maintaining healthy vision. As for the dryness – they have a curved frame and lens shape for a design that sits closer to your face, keeping the inside climate more moist for your eyes – not so with typical flat lenses/eyewear frames where there’s more air circulation.
While it’s true that they do sit pretty close to my face, they’re not in so far that they get a great seal around my eyes. Also, my problem isn’t that my eyes were getting dry, so it’s not something I could actually test out myself.
It’s unclear in layman’s, non-jargony terms how the glasses actually benefit your eyes. I mean, it does actually work, but I’m not sure why. It’s true that the lenses filter out harsher light, like blue, which causes more eye fatigue than other colors, so the yellow-tint helps there. It could be as easy as just making your eyes less tired, which spreads benefits to their other claims (better vision, cause your eyes aren’t tired, and less dry-feeling eyes, cause your eyes aren’t tired). If that’s all there is, you could get a cheaper pair of yellow-tinted glasses at at drug store and DIY.
What I said in my review three years ago is that these glasses helps alleviate headaches I get from staring at a screen, which is great, but since I rarely got headaches (back then) I didn’t feel the need to wear them all the time.
However, for whatever reason (my guess is getting older), I started developing regular eye strain and headaches when sitting in front of my computer. This was much more frequent than the once every three weeks like before, but more like three out of five days a week. So I started wearing the Gunnar Optiks glasses every day and the headaches and eyestrain vanished. I didn’t feel like it was keeping my eyes any wetter than before, but I do know that any pain I once had was gone, with the only cost (other than the literal cost of buying glasses) was looking like Bono all day.
Problem was, I was still wearing my regular prescription glasses on the couch, because I’m nearsighted and anything beyond three feet gets a little fuzzy. This isn’t a big deal for TV, but for games, where I have to read text on screen, glasses are vital. I couldn’t wear two glasses, right? Turns out Gunnar offers a prescription version as well.
The prescription Gunnars
The glasses in the top photo are their new Modern Warfare 3 line of glasses. Don’t worry, you don’t have to get this style if you want Rx glasses (or non Rx), so you don’t have to look like a more aggressive Charles Nelson Reilly. The Rx program is through VSP and Vision Care Direct, if you have those for our insurance.
These prescription specs work pretty well. I no longer have to choose between either sitting on the couch with regular glasses and having eye strain, or not having eye strain and sitting closer to the TV. I can sit on the couch and read all the on-screen text perfectly for as long as I want.
Here’s a stat to demonstrate how well these actually are. I’ve logged about 75 hours in Skyrim over the past week and a half (I have a serious problem), and I’ve worn these Gunnars for all the hours I’ve been playing. Without these glasses I would either be squinting all day, which would make my eyes tired, or using my regular glasses, which would make my eyes tired. There’s no way I could have gotten 75 hours in a week and a half without them.
I also use these Gunnars for watching TV, which would have been useful during my crazyDoctor Who and Breaking Bad marathons in which I watched the entire Season 4 of the latter show in 1 day (I have a problem, please help).
Again, these Gunnar glasses aren’t for everyone. If you have perfect eyesight and have no history of eyestrain, eye fatigue or vision-based headaches, there’s no reason to buy one. Zero. Don’t let their marketing lead you into thinking you need one when you don’t. But if you do start getting tired from looking at a computer or a TV—and after getting old, I’m one of those people now—they’re indispensable.
In fact, I didn’t use the glasses at all this morning, while writing this review, and already my eyes are strained more than usual and feel like they’re bulging slightly.
Regular, non-prescription versions cost an average of about $100. You can see all the styleshere, for computer styles, and here, for gaming styles.