blog a quick look at gunnars glasses for computer junkies

A quick look at Gunnar’s glasses for computer junkies

Quick poll: everyone who regularly squints at a computer monitor or television at least eight hours a day, raise your hand. Do I hear nine hours? Ten? Twelve? Depressingly, you’ll still find my hand waving timidly in the air.

A long time ago at a corner desk far, far away… I came to the realization that my eyeballs are constantly fixated on the same glowing rectangle well beyond any time frame that could be considered healthy. Working alongside others who share the same fate, I’ve noticed that everybody has their own techniques for combating the inevitable symptoms of visual fatigue. Some of my colleagues take regular breaks to refuel on coffee or to plant a Nerf dart in someone’s back, while others print their work and turn off their monitors for a period of time. Recently, a new trend has crept into the office: Gunnar computer glasses.

It didn’t take long to succumb to my cat-like curiosity and snag a pair of my own. Anything that might assuage the eye-strain-induced headaches I’ve lived with over my many years as a relentless computer junkie would be a welcomed addition to my daily routine. If the glasses could provide even half the purported functionality of their marketing bravado, I figured the somewhat steep entry price could be rationalized. After all, I don’t hesitate to shell out extra dough for high-quality keyboards and mice that enhance the tactile link to my computers. Why not invest a few bucks in the outbound interface between the computer’s monitor and my eyes, as well?

The glasses will run anywhere from $79 to $189 depending on the style and retailer. My particular model, the Phenom, is listed at $99 online. With a little comparison shopping and coupon code-clipping, I was able to get the final price down to $85.

People rocking a pair of Gunnars are easily singled out in a crowd, thanks to the distinctive yellow-tinted lenses. The amber tint is only one ingredient in the secret sauce that Gunnar terms i-AMP lens technology. i-AMP is made up of four obnoxiously named (and trademarked) components: diAMIX lens material, iONik lens tints, fRACTYL lens geometry, and i-FI lens coatings—I promise the caps lock key is not acting up.

Ignoring the awkward capitalization for now, these four technologies are intended to mesh together to offer the wearer better contrast, a warmer color spectrum that’s easier on the eyes, a protective barrier that keeps eyes moist, and a dose of anti-glare properties. The lens material was designed to cut the harsh light emitted by the backlit displays and fluorescent tubes commonly found in the average workplace.

Do these face-huggers actually work? In short, yes! Having been blessed with 20/20 vision, I am not accustomed to wearing anything beyond cheapo sunglasses outdoors, so it took about half an hour or so for my eyes to relax upon donning the Gunnars for the first time. Part of that time was spent getting used to the small amount of magnification provided by the lenses. Once my eyes calmed down and my brain had time to adjust its internal white balance to compensate for the yellow tint, the improvement was evident.

The glasses seem to work best for long-haul computing or gaming sessions. Despite using them every day for the past couple of weeks, my eyes still need a little bit of time to adjust each time I put them on. Short bursts of emailing or perusing the news over lunch don’t give my eyeballs enough time to fully relax before taking the Gunnars off again. As a general rule of thumb, I’ll slap them on for pixel stare-downs lasting 30 minutes or longer.

So far, the thing that’s impressed me the most about these glasses is their ability to make on-screen motion less painful. The motion doesn’t necessarily look more fluid, but my eyes can follow it with less effort. The eye strain I feel with constant scrolling has been reduced substantially, and I find it easier to track specific lines of text while traversing endless pages of code.

The Gunnars have had a significant impact on my gaming stamina as well. The ability to quickly acquire and track a target with one’s eyes is essential in most 3D games, but that task gets tiring after a while. Even in casual games, animations and repeated motion can wear down your eyeballs. As a Minecraft addict, I sometimes lose all track of time; five or six hours later, my head pays the price. If I’m wearing the Gunnars during these sessions, my brain and eyes feel less exhausted, allowing me to refocus on the real world a little bit faster.

Gunnar claims the glasses lock in moisture in by blocking outside drafts and promoting natural blinking. Apparently, we tend to blink more when our eyes are relaxed than when we’re squinting, which keeps our peepers naturally watered down. I never noticed any issues with dryness prior to wearing the Gunnars, so it’s hard to tell if they make a difference. Some unscientific experimentation showed that I can stare at a single point without blinking quite a bit longer with the glasses on. However, this claim feels like marketing exploiting a phenomenon that occurs behind the lenses of most glasses.

Despite my current infatuation with these spectacles, they do have some drawbacks. First, and perhaps foremost, the yellow tint is counterproductive when working with images or projects where color accuracy is important. For programming, productivity applications, web-browsing, and even gaming, absolute color accuracy is often an afterthought. However, as soon as Photoshop launches on my PC, the glasses have to come off. Thankfully, the vast majority of what I do on a computer makes no demands for color purity. For die-hard graphic designers and the like, Gunnar does offer a clear "CRySTALLINE" lens that sports the same anti-glare coating and moisture protection without the shift to warmer colors.

Another point of frustration for me is the fact that Gunnar felt the need to print its name in the upper corner of the left lens, similar to Ray-Ban shades. Unfortunately, this corner is well within my peripheral view, and I constantly see a slight blur from the lettering in my field of vision. Why create a product whose sole purpose is to reduce eye strain and then introduce a permanent blurry spot into the equation? Part of the initial adjustment period my eyes require with these glasses can be attributed to attempts to focus on and then compensate for the blur. Gunnar, if you’re listening, please ditch the lettering on the lens itself. Your name is already printed in two other places on the frame in case I forget.

Overall, I have been pleasantly surprised by the Gunnars, which have become an integral part of my work day and play time. I was somewhat skeptical at first, despite positive testimonials from co-workers, but am glad I took a gamble on this product. Although I am satisfied, the opportunity to test-drive a pair before proceeding to checkout would have been nice. If you know somebody who uses these glasses, ask to borrow them for an hour or so before passing final judgement. If they do seem beneficial, a wide variety of frames exists to suit most stylistic persuasions. The only target market seemingly excluded from the lineup is the affluent monocle crowd. For shame.

0 responses to “A quick look at Gunnar’s glasses for computer junkies

  1. Then, we’ll have iPlacebo, which will sport a better UI, but not bring more than regular Placebo except a flock of hipsters buying it at the Placebo Store.

  2. I am glad you posted your article when you did. I purchased the Gunnar Sheadogs last week and it seems I got them just before Newegg deactivated them. 🙂 Thank you 🙂

  3. Well I believe not all models have that “Gunnar” font print. I have been looking on different retailers but they don’t have that printed. Maybe you can ask the seller first.
    Me too find that logo is annoying.

  4. +1

    I’ll believe they work, when a placebo-controlled double blind study says they do.

  5. I would buy these but the logo on the lens is so stupid I can’t bring myself to put up with it. Maybe if one day they remove it and I hear about it I’ll pickup a pair since I have a major issue with eye strain.

  6. Thank you for this. I had been debating a pair of these since I have gotten to the point, from all my years of sitting in front of a pc for 8 hrs a day, that my vision actually blurs by the end of the day.

    I am going to figure out which style I like and grab a pair 🙂

  7. I’ve seen and tried a few things that I didn’t like and returned them.
    No-one is “smart enough” not to fall for anything, especially in the era of hyper-informed marketers.

    I do like these glasses though.

  8. “Only because I have a eye benefit that goes to waste if I don’t use my allotment each year.”

    Aah, so that’s why such a ludicrous proportion of the USA’s GDP is spent on “medical care”, whether needed or not!

  9. Wow. It’s just like you can read my mind. I have the same complains about headache etc. for years and was about to get me cheap glasses from China last week. Thx for the review.

    I’m on a tight budget, but this complete set looks interesting:

  10. “I also do not consider myself easily sold by plecebo. If they didn’t work for me, I would have returned thm.”

    People who say things like that are the most likely ones to get eaten by placebo. Totally the same thing as when scientists get duped by people like Geller or Project Alpha: they know their stuff so OBVIOUSLY they can’t fall for something simple.

    The reason placebo is a widely discussed factor and something that keeps multi-billion dollar industries running in alt-med and similar is exactly that placebo IS powerful, and placebo is powerful because it “works”. When you are subjected to a placebo effect, you are actually seeing a benefit! Having a solid experience of something working does not mean it’s not placebo.

    The way to find out is easy: find some people who use these things, then switch out the lenses. See if they notice. Alternatively, perform tests with these glasses, and have identical non-treated glasses as a control, and don’t tell anyone what you are testing for. Just ask them to use them and report what they find. Then gather the data and get it analyzed by someone who also does not know what you are testing. And don’t do this on money from an advertising department at the manufacturer.

    THEN we’ll have the answer. Until then, people saying “they work for me” mean absolutely nothing in the whole placebo question, because the fact is that placebo does exist as an actual and real effect, and no-one (including myself) is “smart enough” to not fall for it.

  11. I’d +2 this if I could 🙂 Thanks.

    Alas, I do work in non-movable environment (AKA a cube farm), but fortunately glare and low lighting are ergonomic concerns that have been accounted for in our building’s design. I’ve got one overhead light in my cube that I’ve angled to shine behind my monitors, sort of like a poor man’s Ambilight, and another one that illuminates the keyboard and desk around me.

    I would imagine that the vast majority of the stress in my case is caused by a combination of tiny text and monitor brightness. My job requires that I have an insane number of windows and consoles open at the same time, and tiny text lets me see more of what I need at the same time. I generally keep my monitors at about 60-75% brightness, anything lower than that feels like I have to lean in and squint even more to read things.

  12. I’ve spent hours a day in front of the computer for the last 27 years, more or less (I do take a day or two off here and there), and generally I escape without a headache–or if I do occasionally develop a headache it’s always fairly mild. The fact that you seem to be plagued by uncomfortable headaches fairly often–that seem to be relieved by these glasses–leads me to believe that you might benefit from a few tips that have helped me avoid eyestrain and headaches through the years:

    *First, I’d get your vision checked just to be sure. It may be that your vision is something less than 20/20 these days, which is causing you to unconsciously squint and strain and bringing on your headaches. Hopefully, this is not the case, but you need to eliminate uncorrected <20/20 vision as a culprit.

    *If your display text is too small for comfort, then you will unconsciously strain your eyes to compensate–and you’ll get regular, consistent headaches from doing so. It’s remarkable how much eye strain can be relieved in ~hi-res browser displays by simply enlarging the text zoom until you can comfortably read it without any strain at all. Larger text displayed at high resolution looks quite nice, actually. I even have my Windows7 desktop fonts at 125% of standard dpi for my 1920×1080 display, and things are far easier to read than with the standard dpi at that resolution. You stated that these glasses slightly magnify and that you find this beneficial–you can get the identical effect without the glasses simply by enlarging your text display sufficiently. The idea is to enlarge it to whatever degree is required for you to no longer experience strain. (After you do this and get used to the pleasure it provides you’ll never be able to go back to that itty-bitty text display again…;))

    *Calibrate the brightness of your display. If your monitor has built-in levels of gamma display, say 0,1 or 2, like my monitor, make sure you use the lowest gamma setting to normalize for Internet browsing, and then adjust your gpu controls for your best, least stressful display–ie, make sure your display is not set “too bright” as this will also cause eye strain/headaches after prolonged periods.

    *Glare should be a non-issue as you should *always* use a non-glare screen. If you don’t have one and cannot get one, then adjust your position relative to any windows or sources of outside light in your room so that the back of your monitor and you are facing the light–you don’t want a light source behind you that will reflect off your non-glare screen. Best solution is a non-glare screen. Otherwise, it’s musical chairs until you can get rid of the glare.

    *Peripheral lighting. You need to have a little in the room so that you aren’t looking at a bright monitor in an otherwise pitch-black room. That’s a recipe for eye-strain without a doubt. Whatever light you have should be entering the room ahead of you so that it will not cause glare in the case of a non-glare screen.

    *Keeping your eyes moist. Definitely important! I prefer real moisture every now and then, so I keep a .5 fl oz bottle of Equate Redness Reliever (with tetrahydrozoline HCI…;)) on my desk at all times. Cost: $1. Approximate duration for me is ~6-9months.

    (Disclaimer: After I had written this I realized I was looking at it from the perspective of having my own, private office where things are managed to suit me. David is apparently talking about his experience in a shared office where he may well not have a choice as to how things are laid out, how it is lighted, or even on whether or not he winds up with a non-glare screen. For cases like that where working eye-strain is such that it routinely causes headaches, I can certainly share David’s recommendation for these glasses. But if you do your work in a location that gives you the freedom of arranging it as you like, as I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do, you may find as I did that the glasses are unnecessary.)

  13. [quote<]There certainly are cheaper ways to adjust the white point of a computer monitor though although they possibly aren't as effective as a low pass filter.[/quote<] ...and botch your monitor's color balance in the process, although I suppose you can work around this using presets. But the whole point of having something you can put on and remove again is that it's easy and doesn't require tweaking anything before or after, though. [quote<]For the second one, ok, that may be true as well. But how much scattering can their be between the monitor and your eyeball? Is it even measurable?[/quote<] It's more an issue of what the light does inside your eye, where it's passing through multiple layers of fleshy and gelatin-like substances. The refractive index of the vitreous humor, for example, is just slightly higher than water. [quote<]The third is the same argument that is made by the sellers of UV filters for camera lenses. Total BS. I don't doubt there is an anti-glare coating but the only reason there is glare to begin with is because you're putting another pair of surfaces in the visual path that light can bounce off of. All the anti-glare coating does is reduce the glare caused by the glasses themselves.[/quote<] And if you're putting another pair of surfaces in the visual path for a good reason, you'd kind of prefer to have it. Speaking as someone who is nearsighted as a bat his entire life, and greatly welcomed the transition to lens coatings.

  14. I’m skeptical of these as well but was looking for something that would reduce the stress on my eyes. If you use computers for long periods of time, this may help reduce eye strain.

    They did for me. They’re not the second coming, they don’t magically give you xray vision, and they don’t butter your bread, but they help a little with eye strain. Well worth the price for my situation. Admittedly they may not help you – if you get them, make sure there is a good return policy.

    I also do not consider myself easily sold by plecebo. If they didn’t work for me, I would have returned thm.

  15. [quote=”ludi”<]Flip back and forth a couple times -- the eye that was just opened will have a noticeably warmer white-balance for a little while.[/quote<] Hah! Yeah, I actually noticed this to a GREAT degree during a 15-hour shift at work one day. I was carrying some boxes out of a refrigeration trailer, and Cheyenne was having it's annual "Hey, don't forget you live in Wyoming" blizzard. The boxes were stacked high enough that they blocked my vision, so I pressed one side of my face against them to help me stabilize them, and kept the other side unobstructed so I could see where I was going. As soon as I badged into our building and set the boxes down, I opened my closed eye -- it was very warm in color reception compared to the eye that had been navigating me through a whitewash of snow. Very interesting experience.

  16. I have to admit, I have been more than “a little skeptical” with regards to these. I was [i<]extremely[/i<] skeptical of these, every time I caught one at a glance while perusing Newegg. My gut feeling was that these products depended on blatant false advertisement and people with too much money to know what to do with it in order to produce revenue for whatever ethically-handicapped company was producing them. Ironically, I had just finished extolling the journalistic virtues of to my girlfriend, when I opened it and saw a review of these glasses, and moreover, a positive one. I found myself in quite a pickle, one which I escaped from by conceding that my initial conclusion about these was unfounded and, perhaps, a bit harsh.

  17. I have a pair of these (the kind I have do not have the word “gunnar” in the corner) and must say they are great.

    I’m not advertising for the company, and was a little skeptical at first, but I got a pair and must say that they do help with reducing eye soreness after 1/2 hour – 1 hour or more in front of a computer. I don’t use them on the job, but do use them with my home monitor, staring into a new HP ZR2440w (a nice screen BTW). They do reduce the screen glare and soreness on the eyes. For photo viewing or short term use they are not that great, but longer gaming sessions or longer use in general and they really help.

    Anyone here have the clear kind? Do they work well?

  18. Well some of them do and others don’t. I doubt it is a direct contract stipulation because a pro would just quit if forced to do something they felt would actually hinder them (as useless eyewear would).

  19. I’ll give you the first one. There certainly are cheaper ways to adjust the white point of a computer monitor though although they possibly aren’t as effective as a low pass filter.

    For the second one, ok, that may be true as well. But how much scattering can their be between the monitor and your eyeball? Is it even measurable?

    The third is the same argument that is made by the sellers of UV filters for camera lenses. Total BS. I don’t doubt there is an anti-glare coating but the only reason there is glare to begin with is because you’re putting another pair of surfaces in the visual path that light can bounce off of. All the anti-glare coating does is reduce the glare caused by the glasses themselves.

  20. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Joe Croft looks familiar. His boss is smoking hot though.

  21. Not necessarily a placebo effect. First, human eyes are more sensitive to higher frequency colors, which can be perceived more readily and cause more rapid eyestrain over long periods of exposure. (For this reason, blue backlighting on a car’s IP can be really distracting during night driving.)

    Second, high-frequency colors tend to scatter more widely and create distracting glare, which is also the reason dedicated foglights are tinted yellow.

    Third, these advertise an anti-glare coating. Fluorite anti-glare coatings have been used for years on prescription eyeglasses, high-quality photography filters, and other optics applications, to reduce glare and reflections. It’s usually applied through a multi-stage deposition process and is not cheap, and it does work as advertised.

    They may not be worth it to you, but they do have measurable effects on eyestrain and fatigue.

  22. Why? There is no such thing as a fixed white balance in the human eyes. Easy experiment: next time you wake up in the morning or from a nap, keep one eye closed for a while but let the other adjust to the ambient light for a few minutes. Then, close that eye and open the other. Flip back and forth a couple times — the eye that was just opened will have a noticeably warmer white-balance for a little while. Another experiment: stare through a pair of red-blue 3D glasses for a while. Then, pull them off and flip back and forth between eyes and notice the shift in hue. Again, adjustment eventually occurs.

    At a less extreme level, this sort of thing can go on all day long in response to ambient light, colored light sources (including non-neutral wall paint), fatique, and so forth. So unless you’re doing graphics work where you need to keep the visual sources as unbiased as possible, concerns over the color shift are irrelevant. Your eyes will adjust to the new “normal” after putting the glasses on, and adjust again after you take them off.

  23. I have a pair. Only because I have a eye benefit that goes to waste if I don’t use my allotment each year. Makes reading text on a monitor a bit easier but the yellow tint is annoying when looking at any photo’s and such. Gaming I don’t notice much of a difference so I leave them on.

  24. I love this episode of House: [url<][/url<]

  25. I know they sponsor EG’s SC2 professional gaming team, but it’s hard to tell whether the players wear them because they work or because they are being paid to do so.

  26. If he’d calibrated his monitor to 6500K color temperature, he wouldn’t need these, now, would he? 🙂

  27. Double check to see if it’s still working: check
    Turn it off to be sure: check
    Get blasted in the eyeballs with a blue screen: check

  28. f.lux doesn’t make you look “cool” or turn you into Gordon Freeman:

  29. I also have glasses and have no problem with eye strain. I even learned to shift my sitting position regularly so I don’t get back/neck pains.

  30. Actually, although I overlooked this in the posting, Gunnar does offer prescription specs as well.


  31. [quote<]The only target market seemingly excluded from the lineup is the affluent monocle crowd. For shame.[/quote<] And, presumably, those of us who already wear glasses. Good thing there's not many of us.

  32. This is purely from my gut but I suspect more expensive placebos work better than less expensive ones. Better add $50 just to make sure it works!

  33. [quote<]The only target market seemingly excluded from the lineup is the affluent monocle crowd. For shame.[/quote<] Quite. ┌─┐ ┴─┴ ಠ_ರೃ

  34. “a warmer color spectrum” – why would I want to distort the color spectrum of my well-calibrated monitor, especially when I’m playing some game with a beautiful outdoor environments or even browsing a random webpage with large photos or some similar graphical elements?
    And that thing about “blocking outside drafts” – I dunno what kind of windy environments other people live in/work at, but where I work/live I don’t feel any air movements around my eyes/face, and if I would – I would simply relocate… Same goes for glare.
    All in all, it seems like a cheap “band-aid” fix for some theoretical issues or the issues (such as brightness, color temperature, contrast and glare) which anyone should be able to fix without using these magix shades with “CRySTALLINE fRACTYL diAMIX iONik Cannon” revolutionary technologies.

  35. So… why not just adjust your monitor to a warmer color balance if the cool colors of your monitor are a problem? I use computers for 8+ hours a day (and have almost every week day for the last 15-ish years) and I generally don’t have problems with eye strain. I do wear glasses however, so maybe they have the same magical properties that these do…

  36. I picked up the Anime style ~2 years ago when these first came out and never looked back. Wearing them right now in fact. The name on the lens must be new thing as mine don’t have that (I checked when I saw the pic in the article).

  37. I was wondering about these, the ads are plastered all over the Bay Area. Thanks for the info I might have to pick a pair of these up.

  38. Glad to hear these worked out so well for you. I had been looking at a pair myself when I first started my programming job out of college, but quickly realized that I didn’t need them.

    It ends up evening out I suppose: you are lucky to have 20/20 vision and I am lucky enough to skirt by without eye strain ;). I also set my work monitors’ brightness down to 0, so that probably helps greatly.

    Nevertheless, sitting at a desk for 8+ hours will still get to me.

  39. Monocles have no business in the computer world with all the lemon party business and 4chan. It would never stay attached for more than five minutes and would undoubtedly break within an hour.

    F.lux user here. Does wonders for the eyes, especially at night, but the color temp doesn’t seem to transfer with the games, so they’re still brighter than whatever you were using on your desktop. However, for all general browsing and light work, F.lux is fantastic. [url<][/url<]