Gunnar Optiks is a company that specializes in computer eyewear if ever there were such a thing. Getting their start by producing eyewear specifically targeted at people who play games for extended periods of time, Gunnar has since branched out to other demographics, including the casual or office computer user. The purpose of a pair of Gunnars is to “protect your eyes, improve the visual environment, improve detail and focus, and reduce eye fatigue,” but do they work?
Gunnar Optiks sent me a pair of their glasses (I chose a pair called “Paralex”) to try out and review. That was over a month ago and I refrained from saying anything about the glasses because as often as I wore them, initially, I couldn’t help but wonder if they were in the least bit effective at accomplishing what they set out to do.
The way that Gunnars work is by filtering out artificial light, such as the light emitted by computer screens. In laymen’s terms, it filters out the color blue on the color spectrum, making computer viewing less impactful on your eyes. My experience with the eyewear left me a bit conflicted on the $79 price tag, but I continued using them to try to understand their intended effect better.
The lenses on the Paralex are tinted an amber color for the filtering purposes mentioned earlier (there are available pairs with clear lenses for color intensive work, but they don’t eliminate the harsh blue artificial light, like the amber lenses do) and it is quite noticeable how much light they are filtering out if you switch back and forth between them every so often, as I did to garner a better feel for what they were doing for my eyes. They block UV and harsh artificial light the same way a pair of sunglasses do, but to a lesser extent. The result is a definite reduction in strain placed on eyes, but as I switched back and forth, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was just a matter of my eyes having to readjust to the changing light. Once left off for a short period of time, my eyes readjusted and the difference in amount of strain placed on my eyes was negligible.
One claim that Gunnar makes on their eyewear is that it will “improve detail and focus,” which I initially read with a large amount of skepticism, because it sounded as if they were claiming their glasses would increase the resolution of the screen you are looking at. While that is impossible to do with a pair of glasses, I noticed no change in clarity, detail, or focus while wearing the glasses. It could be argued that by having less strain placed on your eyes by artificial and UV light, your eyes can more easily focus an image, but that wasn’t noticeable to me.
It should be noted that I wear contact lenses due to being nearsighted, but for those who wear prescription glasses, Gunnar does make eyewear that can accommodate your prescription. I can’t speak to the effectiveness of those pairs of glasses, but they are an option.
Many computer users (and contact lens wearers) complain about dryness being a problem the longer they stare at a screen (or the longer they wear their contact lenses in one day). Fifteen hours of constantly wearing my contact lenses is usually the point where they begin to dry out and become problematic. However, GUNNAR claims that wearing their glasses will reduce dryness by utilizing a design that places the lenses closer to your eyes, thus reduce airflow and trapping moisture. I do not take that to mean that it will solve my problem with contact lenses, but while wearing the glasses throughout the day, I noticed no change in dryness. Whether it was an hour into wearing my contact lenses or ten, the glasses changed nothing about how dry my eyes were.
So, is Gunnar’s eyewear worth the $79 price tag (for the Paralex pair)? While the glasses do reduce the strain placed on your eyes by eliminating artificial and UV lighting produced by electronic screens, they don’t succeed at much else. To add to that, the reduction in eye strain is close to negligible, though it can also be argued that the benefit of wearing Gunnar is something that can only be noticed over a long period of time. If you’re looking for results in a reasonable amount of time, though, it’s difficult to argue for Gunnar’s Paralex.