Review - Gunnar Glasses

2017-01-18

Most days, I spend 8+ hours a day at a computer. Most of that is for my job. It’s pretty well known that staring at a screen all day can cause quite a bit of eye strain. For me, though, I had spent so much of my life in front of a computer screen that I guess I just got use to it and it just became normal.

However, ever since I saw Gunnar glasses and saw various bits of information about other glasses designed to reduce eye strain while working at a computer, I was curious if I’d see any benefit from it. At this point, these glasses have been around for many years and I just hadn’t jumped on it as I wasn’t ready to invest a not insignificant chunk of money on something I was skeptical about.

When the Game Grumps did their collaboration with Gunnar and released special edition Game Grumps glasses, as fans of the show and as someone curious about the glasses, I decided I’d give it a shot. I figured at worst, I might have some Game Grumps shooting glasses or something (note: these glasses will not provide as much protection as actual shooting glasses).

I have had them for a while now. As I am typing this up, I am wearing them, and I have a second pair on order for use at the office. Obviously, I’m sold on the concept.

Skepticism

When I first received them, I wore them a bit just around the house, not really doing any computer work or anything, just to see what it was like to wear them. Oddly, despite not wearing glasses for almost 2 years since getting laser eye surgery, wearing them felt normal. The yellow tint wasn’t as off-putting as I had expected, and my brain compensated fairly quickly. However, that evening, my skepticism remained. I noticed no impact to how my eyes felt or any other benefit that I was suppose to receive. But I also recognized that I was not using them as part of their intended function.

The next day was a work day, this would tell the tale.

Experience Convinces Me

I have had an usual amount of work lately. My working hours have not been steady due to the work involved and timing of tasks. In short, it’s been stressful. Normally, I feel drained after a day of work, but this was especially bad. I was hesitant to make a change that could impact any part of my health, be it good or bad, when there was such a high amount of skepticism involved, but I decided I should give it a go anyway.

I wore the glasses through a 12+ hour work days at the computer. I took them off to do things like have lunch, take walking breaks, etc. At the end of the work day, I took them off and I sat for a moment just to reflect on the day and what tasks were next and when. The striking thing that hit me was that I didn’t feel nearly as fatigued as I normally do. I also noticed that I was able to focus so much better on what I was doing.

Overall, I felt better. I felt like I just learned exactly what eye strain was all about when it came to working at a computer all day. However, this was just one day. It’s possible I could have been feeling some placebo effect or I just generally felt better overall. So I remained skeptical. I can’t help it, I’m quite the skeptic.

I wore them every day since then while working. By the end of the first, I was ordering a second pair to take to work and leave there.

So, I’m sold on them. There’s a couple of things I want to go over to review these glasses, though. First, I want to go over my actual experience, and second I want to review the product itself.

The Experience

While wearing them, the effects of the glasses were not super obvious beyond the initial “well, the world is slightly yellow, now.” As I had mentioned, the tint is such that it’s not severe, and my brain was able to compensate pretty easily. They are designed to filter blue light, but you still see blue colors easily. Environmentally, everything around you looks like a bit of a late but bright dusk. Maybe like some of the weird periods around storms. I think that’s part of why your brain is able to compensate for the color change, it’s something it has experienced before.

How this affects your view of your display is you can think of it basically applying those dusk filters to your eyes rather than your screen. These are the filters some people use on their displays to try to reduce energetic blue spectrum light that some are studying for its adverse effect on sleep.

However, for me, it doesn’t end there. While I had laser eye surgery and my vision came out better than 20/20, I’ve noticed sometimes things can be a tad blurry, especially as my eyes dry a bit. One of the stated goals of these glasses is to aid in keeping moisture around your eyes. I suspect part of this is because it’s very well known that while you are reading, including on computer screens, you blink less frequently. This can cause excessive drying. While I still remain skeptical of the claim that the glasses trap moisture around your eyes, I have noticed that blurring is less of an issue. Even on my tiny 13” 1080p display without magnified fonts, I can easily focus on the screen when using the glasses.

One aspect of eye strain that I have never seemed to experience is pain in the eyes. Dryness, blurry vision, and general fatigue seemed to be helped by the glasses, but I can’t say anything about potential pain.

The Glasses

I’ve never really worn plastic glasses. Even in my youth, I wore wire frame glasses. The Game Grumps edition glasses are based on the Enigma style of Gunnar glasses. These are a plastic frame that are somewhat thick. It’s ideal for putting the Game Grumps customizations on it. With that noted, you can really apply this review to the Enigma and similar glasses overall.

Even though I bought them for their utility, I do still, to this day, get compliments about how good they look on me, even after a couple of months. Of course, I also get the odd comment along the lines of “Nice shooting glasses. Going to the range?” due to the yellow tint.

Packaging

The packaging was pretty good. The glasses came in the Gunnar case wrapped in a plastic protective bag, which was in a box fit to the size of the case. There was not much in terms of packing material to dispose of. I note this because I strongly dislike excessive packaging that is difficult to get into.

The normal glasses don’t come with a case, but were still well packaged and protected.

Case

The case was a bit unusual to me. I have had numerous pairs of glasses and sunglasses in my life, including some that were fairly expensive. The cases they tended to come with snapped close and this was the norm for me. The only odd case that I had before was one I purchased separately that opened on the end and closed with a zipper.

The Gunnar case does not snap close. It has a soft hinge and relies on relatively weak magnets to hold it closed. The case was trimmed with threading accents and has a nice soft interior. It’s somewhat formed to feel like a custom case for the glasses, but their case is designed to fit all of their glasses.

This semi-custom design for the case does present a problem, though. I imagine it will do fine closing on all of their glasses, but some may have some trouble fitting. The Enigma appears to be one of those frame models.

Having worn glasses a huge chunk of my life, I tried applying that logic to putting the glasses in the case. In my mind, they should just rest in the case, and the case should then close on them, holding closed on their own. In my case, the case would not close completely. Being that they are magnetically closed, this left a weak closing force due to the gap left when closing the case.

Gunnar helped me through this. It turns out, the back of the glasses, the arms, were not set completely in the case. I figured out how to get them in and get a complete closure. However, when I placed the glasses in the sleeve and then tried to close, I was still left with a gap.

Having found the arms very stiff (more on this later), I loosened them, and then found when I stored them in the case that closure was much easier, even with the glasses in the bag.

I was still not happy with the magnetic closure despite solving this problem. I have wide rubber bands that fit over the case about perfectly without much stretch, which I now use when I might transport the glasses in the case to ensure closure of the case. There is definitely room for improvement on the case that I think Gunnar should look into. If they want to stick with the magnetic closure, use stronger magnets. Otherwise, it’s time to rethink this.

As with modern premium sunglasses, the glasses do come with a bag as well. The bag is customized with the Game Grumps orange background pattern, similar to the arms of the glasses.

Glasses

As mentioned, these are plastic framed glasses. These are probably the first premium plastic glasses I have ever had. The frames are quite lightweight, and this can lend to them feeling quite cheap. However, carbon fiber and titanium are also very light and not so cheap, so you can’t really judge value and durability on weight.

I’m not sure what material makes up the frame, but it appears to have a hard shiny coating. There are no sharp edges and all surfaces that are worn are smooth.

As mentioned, they are also quite light. Once your brain adjusts to the color, you almost forget you are wearing them. In fact, I have almost walked out of my home with them on many times, and I frequently walk around the office without realizing they were still on. I’m guessing part of that is just my brain going back into glasses wearing mode, but they become that unintrusive in their use.

The Game Grumps edition has the Game Grumps logo on the inside of the left temple arm, with the orange dot pattern on the outside.

Speaking of the arms, I found they were extremely stiff out of the box, as though whoever put in the screws was not being careful with torque. One good thing I get out of this is it appears the screws are likely quite durable. However, loosening them was not super easy, and their stiffness caused problems with storing them in the case.

The Enigma frames appear to only come with the amber lenses. The clear lenses were not an option on the Gunnar site.

Overall

While the case seems quite fiddly and I’m not entirely happy with it, I do like the glasses quite a lot. As I mentioned, I bought a second pair. In fact, the second pair is also in the Enigma style, so despite this being my first ever plastic glasses, I was not put off by it.

Though one of the reasons I ordered another Enigma pair for work was to make sure I got a consistent experience between work and home.

Please note that while there is probably some actual scientific data out there about the efficacy of this technology, what I have put here is anecdotal and is not evidence of Gunnar’s claims. If you are thinking of trying Gunnar glasses but still aren’t ready for the monetary investment, see if you know someone that uses them and will loan you theirs to try out. Give it more than just a day. Give it a week. You may find yourself ordering a pair yourself. To me, it’s worth it, so much that I did it twice.