If you work in an office or enjoy playing video games, you’ve probably seen someone wear a pair of GUNNAR Optiks eyeglasses. Most commonly referred to as “GUNNARS,” these glasses are believed to minimize eye strain caused by staring at a digital screen. Some people swear by them while others scoff at the claim, but everyone has the same question: do GUNNARS really work?
As someone who uses a computer daily and has vision problems because of it, I decided to find out for myself.
Computer Vision Syndrome is Not a Myth
First, let’s get one thing straight: sitting in front of a computer is bad for your health. Not only has this activity been linked to causing heart disease, cancer, and even a shortened life expectancy; it’s also ruining millions of people’s eyes.
The bad news is that you’re probably one of them.
It’s estimated that Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) affects 90 percent of the people who spend at least three hours a day staring at a screen. This “screen” is not limited to computers and can be anything with a digital display including portable video game systems, smartphones, tablets and televisions — basically everything that encapsulates the Digital Age we’re living in. As more and more research is done in this area, the outlook just keeps getting worse.
Symptoms of CVS
- Blurred Vision
- Neck Strain
- Redness in the Eyes
- Eye Strain
- Dry Eyes
- Irritated Eyes
- Double Vision
If you’ve ever experienced any of the symptoms listed above after staring at a screen, you may have CVS. And if you stare at a screen while at school or at work, these symptoms are aggravated even further by improper lighting conditions and dry air moving past your eyes.
I can attest to this because I use a computer under these conditions and have been experiencing CVS symptoms for several years. I always assumed there was no “cure” for my diminishing eyesight because there is no getting around using a computer for my job — then I heard about GUNNARS.
The claims made by GUNNARS are lofty, but the technology behind their product was enough to convince me to give them a try.
How GUNNARS Work
Since 2007, GUNNAR Optiks has been manufacturing specialty eyewear designed specifically to protect people from CVS. The company boldly claims that wearing their patented eyewear will “improve contrast and comfort while reducing eye fatigue and visual stress.” The human eye wasn’t designed to handle artificial light, GUNNAR says, so that’s where their products come in:
“We are wired to a media-rich, networked world of infinite possibility. Visually connected to computers, tablets, phones and games – peering into an abyss of high-energy visible (HEV) blue light for hours can disrupt your entire system; your eyes, neck and back, circadian rhythms and overall health. CVS has become a common problem for our digital generation.” — GUNNAR Optiks
The lens technology behind GUNNARS concentrates on four major factors: design, material, tint and coating.
- Limits Air Currents
- Increases Humidity and Prevents Irritation
- Enhances Focus and Sharpens Detail
GUNNARS lenses are shaped in such a way that they wrap around your eyes and limit the amount of air that passes through. Because of this, the humidity surrounding your eyes is increased and forms a protective barrier that prevents irritation. This is crucial because individual blink rate is decreased when using a computer and is the leading cause of dry eyes.
- Eliminates Distortion from Impurities
- Provides the Clearest Image Possible
- Ultralight and Durable
Most lenses are constructed in a way that compromise on clarity, color control, durability or impact resistance. The material used for GUNNARS lenses, however, was designed in-house with a 1.59 index that has an extremely high Abbe value for color control. This allows for engineered tints and bandpass filters that are not found in other lens materials.
- Filters Blue Light
- Blocks UV
- Enhances Contrast and Protects Eyes
The artificial HEV light that is emanated from screens is not the balanced type the human eye prefers. Adjusting the color and brightness of screens is also not enough to affect the quality of HEV light and it can still damage your vision. By using custom tints that tune artificial blue light, GUNNARS are able to enhance the physiology of the naked eye, increase contrast perception, and shift the color spectrum for visual efficiency.
- Reduces Glare
- Reflects Light
- Eliminates Visual Distraction and Stress
Typical eyewear has anti-reflective coating on the front portion of the lens, but GUNNARS are coated on both sides of the lens for a clearer view. This method reduces reflection and glare even further and allows your eyes to focus more efficiently — it also makes the lenses more durable.
Putting GUNNARS to the Test
All this lens technology sounds impressive but you’re probably still wondering if it actually works.
After one solid week of wearing a pair of the GUNNAR Optiks Intercept model, I can assert that these glasses not only work, but they may have saved my job.
I work in a typical office environment with large amounts of HEV rays and sit in front of a computer screen for ten hours each day. Being in an air-conditioned room without any natural light causes my eyes to always be dry, and I usually have blurred vision when I drive home. GUNNARS changed all that.
From the first moment I put on GUNNARS, I felt a sense of relief that I’ve never experienced while using a computer. I no longer had to squint to make out words, I didn’t have to use drops every couple of hours to keep my eyes moisturized, and I had more energy when I was away from the computer.
In other words: I felt like I hadn’t been using a computer all day.
To claim GUNNARS saved my job is not an understatement. My vision has been degrading so much in recent years that I’ve often wondered how long I would be able to last in my field. I’ve even gone so far as to make a list of jobs I’m capable of doing that don’t require a computer (that list was not very long).
GUNNARS have allowed me to perform my job without feeling any of the CVS symptoms I have been experiencing for several years. I’ve enjoyed wearing my GUNNARS at work so much that I’ve also begun to wear them at home where I spend a lot of time gaming on my tablet and watching TV. I’m happy to report that I’m able to reap the same benefits I have encountered at the office.
GUNNARS work for me, but does that mean you should get a pair of your own? The answer is yes and no.
After several co-workers heard me proclaiming that GUNNARS changed my life, they were anxious to try them on for themselves. Surprisingly, not everyone felt a benefit from wearing them. And there’s a reason for that.
People who don’t suffer from CVS will not notice an immediate improvement to their vision when wearing GUNNARS. In fact, they may even find the tint more disturbing than useful. However, even if you don’t feel any difference, the glasses will still reduce digital eye strain, improve comfort and focus, and protect your eyes. GUNNARS are also available in a clear crystalline version to accommodate wearers who don’t want to work in an orange hue (i.e. graphic designers and video editors).
Similarly, people who wear prescription lenses may not notice any relief of their CVS symptoms while wearing GUNNARS. I am near-sighted and found that the slight magnification on the Intercept’s lenses was enough for me to use a computer without my prescription glasses, but the GUNNARS became useless when I had to look at something that wasn’t directly in front me.
Several of my co-workers who are far-sighted were disturbed by the magnification on the glasses. Fortunately, GUNNARS are able to be fitted with prescription lenses so anyone that wants to take advantage of their technology can do so.
We live in a digital world and there is no way to escape using screen technology. And if we’re forced to use it we might as well be comfortable doing so. This is why I purchased my own pair of GUNNARS after only one day of wearing a test model at work. They worked that well for me.
If you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from CVS or want to prevent it from affecting you, I highly recommend you try on a pair of GUNNARS and see for yourself what all the fuss is about. With multiple styles to choose from and a 30-day money-back guarantee from GUNNAR Optiks, you literally have nothing to lose — and you might actually end up saving your vision.