My Experience with Gunnar Optiks

by  •  Jul 01, 2014

The War on Eye Strain

I have lousy eyesight. Like, really lousy. I had to have a doctor sign a waiver to allow me to enlist in the Army. Yeah, it’s bad.

I’ve pretty much spent my entire life seeing poorly since my prescription would change so drastically so often. I’m not able to get laser surgery because of science reasons so I’ve pretty much stuck to glasses since I was in elementary school. I tried contacts a few times when I was younger, but they just didn’t sit right for me. All through my Army days as an intelligence analyst I kept two extra pairs of BCG’s in my field kit just in case my civvies went down. These were the parting words I got from the Army ophthalmologist in basic along with the vague threat that he’d “put a boot in the ass of the guy who signed my waiver” should they ever meet.

The Problem

Nowadays, I’m staring at computer screens in drafty office buildings instead of maps on a field desk, but the eye strain kept compounding over the years. Recently it was so bad that I would get a pounding headache every weekday at 2pm like clockwork. I was constantly fatigued and yawning uncontrollably and I slept like crap. Life, frankly, sucked. And that’s when I got some Gunnars.

If you’re reading this website you’re probably of a certain mindset. You’ve probably known of these weird technology glasses and you’ve either thought, “Gaming glasses? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” or “Huh. I shoot with amber lenses, so this kind of makes sense.” So, are Gunnars the real deal or not?

Yes. Yes they are.

Gunnar Packaging

Gunnar Packaging

Before I kicked my pair of hipster Ray-Bans to the curb, I got myself fitted with contact lenses again. Gunnars DO come in prescriptions, but the frames and lenses can only correct your vision to a point, and my peepers fell well outside of what the company could offer. Once my contacts were dialed in, I was ready to begin my Gunnar experience. Gunnars come in a number of different shapes, sizes, and lens options, but I went for a pair of black and silver colored PPK’s with the amber lenses. The current offerings range from $69 all the way up to $149 (my PPK’s set me back $79), although prescription lenses will obviously cost you more. If you are going the Rx route, Gunnar has a handy insurance reimbursement walkthrough on their site, which is certainly appreciated.

The Tech

The frames are feather-light compared to my old prescription glasses, obviously, but they also sit in your face differently. The lenses themselves sit much closer to your eyes than a traditional pair of specs. They wrap rather dramatically to increase their usefulness in the periphery and they seem to sit a bit higher up on the bridge of your nose. This shape is touted by Gunnar to block air currents in drafty offices and keep your eyes from drying out as quickly. I can confidently say that this is, in fact, the case. My use of re-wetting drops has fallen dramatically since I started wearing these things.

Now let’s talk about those lenses. As I said, I opted for a pair with the amber lenses. Gunnars also come in crystalline (clear) and outdoor (tinted) variations, but I went with the amber for my first pair. The color distortion is slight, but noticeable, which is exactly the point with amber lenses. As for the “increased contrast” that they supposedly provide… well, I’d say that’s minimal at best. But that’s not to say that the lenses themselves don’t increase the visual clarity of staring at pixels all day. I couldn’t find any documentation of this anywhere on the Gunnar site, but I can clearly tell that the lenses magnify everything to a slight amount. It’s quite noticeable when staring at a monitor or your cell phone, but you won’t have the feeling you’re looking through a pair of binos or anything. The effect is visible looking at anything, but it really makes reading text on a digital screen a lot easier. As for their effectiveness in the gaming realm, you mileage may vary. With PC gaming at a desk 18” from your monitor you’ll notice the magnification and clarity for sure, but sitting on a couch eight feet away from your TV while jamming out on your console, not as much.

Naked-eye view (left) compared to Gunnar PPK (right).

Naked-eye view (left) compared to Gunnar PPK (right).

The Takeaway

I’ve been using Gunnars nearly every day for the past month at work. My office is the poster-child for the dangers of eye-strain: Harsh florescent lights, drafts, lousy monitors that display even lousier scans of medical records, and top that all off with the searing dryness and heat of the Las Vegas desert in the summer, but even with all that, my PPK’s have completely eliminated my daily headaches and the constant fatigue. I’m so sold on the idea of using Gunnars on a daily basis, I’m looking to purchase another pair to keep at home and a pair of their outdoor glasses, too.

Most of us spend a fair amount of time staring at one digital screen or another, both at work and on our off-time. Eye strain can cut into that marathon gaming session and just as easily make your day job drag on even more than usual. Console gamers might not notice some of the advantages that these glasses offer, but if you’re a PC gamer or stare at a monitor all day for work, Gunnars could definitely help you out.