You've heard of rose tinted glasses, now try a sunnier disposition.
Gunnar Optiks glasses review: I look like a dweeb but I love them
The benefits of Gunnar Optiks' lens technology are so good that I'm willing to overlook how dweeby they make my look. Just barely though.
My screen time is reaching record levels, and with this kind of athleticism comes all the symptoms of digital eye strain. Dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision - my work day is just one long morning after the party. Gunnar Optiks’ glasses promise to aid in the prevention of these symptoms while blocking blue light with their distinctive yellow-tinged lenses. It's hard to look past the lemony lenses in the mirror, but it is even harder to deny the tangible relief these glasses provide. I look like an idiot, but it's worth it.
Non-prescription lenses have always been a weird pitch in my opinion. At the same time as people who needed glasses were being bullied for wearing them, others flocked to them as accessories. This was palpable back in the mid 2000s and has continued into this day with a range of blue light blocking glasses popping up across the internet. Gunnar Optiks have been in the digital eye strain game before bluelight glasses were even a twinkle in an influencer's eye. Unlike many non-prescription glasses on the market, bluelight protection isn’t the main star of the show, these are designed to combat the ocular issues stemming from staring at screens.
When we look at screens we blink less, and have to deal with more visual noise such as reflections and glare. These cause our eyes to dry out, and can fatigue the muscles in our eyes that are used to shift focus, leading to the symptoms spoken about above. Gunnar aims to minimise these with a range of glasses technologies including lenses that trap in humidity to keep your eyes moist, glare-reducing coating called GSHIELD, and a slight non-prescription (or prescription if required) lens adjustment to help relax eye muscles.
That is a lot of marketing speak, but in practice putting the glasses on made an immediate difference. My eyes physically relaxed within minutes of having them on, and I hadn’t even noticed they were tense beforehand. It was like that moment in a massage when you feel the tension release from a knot. Relief. Over the next week my other symptoms subsided as well- less headaches, my eyes no longer blurred, while I can’t speak for the moistness of my eyes I did notice myself blinking more. Or maybe I was just thinking about blinking more and that made it happen?
Regardless, the Gunnar glasses made a palatable and significant difference to my daily comfort. Unfortunately, I feel like a dweeb wearing them.
Gunnar’s branding emphasises the yellow lenses, showing low saturation images with a pop of colour across the site. It is a distinctive look, but not one everyone will be comfortable with. How we are perceived by others plays a significant role in the trends, fashions, and technologies we adopt- the more unique a style or technology is, the more it stands out. To some that is a pro but to others it creates a roadblock.
I’m a pretty confident person who doesn’t mind standing out in a crowd, but the tinted lenses left me feeling self conscious. I work from home most of the time so the sunny hued glasses are just the finishing touches on my daggy outfits. While my colleagues have seen me in various dishevelled states via Zoom, I still found myself putting the Gunnars to the side for meetings. Pyjamas are fine, but golden glasses are not apparently. It's not where I thought I’d draw the line, but here we are. Apart from looking kind of weird, there are the issues with how they change your perception of colours. Naturally looking through yellow lenses will give everything a warmer tinge to it which can be especially problematic for people working with colours such as illustrators, photographers, and graphic designers.
At CES earlier this year, Gunnar announced Clear lenses which have now come to around a third of the available styles. Ahead of the announcement a representative told Reviews it was among their most requested features, and it is easy to see why. Afterall the tint isn’t a stylistic choice, its a practical one. The colour of the lens indicates the strength of the contrast and blue light blocking technology, starting from clear which blocks 35% of blue light through to Amber Max that blocks 98% of bluelight. Amber, which I tested sits in between blocking 65% and is the manufacturer’s most popular choice. However according to Gunnar’s ocular health rep Dr Miki Zilnicki, bluelight isn’t a major concern to the optometric industry at this point in time, saying that the potential ocular health effects are not known yet. Opting for clear glasses should still ease digital eye strain symptoms without needing to make a fashion statement, and I predict they’ll be the most popular choice soon enough.
Are Gunnar glasses worth buying?
It is possible I’ve been wearing these for too long, but my stance on non-prescription eye protection is looking sunnier. You won’t see me strutting around in my amber Gunnar glasses any time soon, but there is no way I'd give them up in the comfort of my own home. The benefits were staggering, immediate, and well worth investing the $75-$200AUD in. Screen time numbers aren’t going down any time soon, so if you’re already struggling with digital eye strain symptoms it's probably worth doing something about it.
Where to buy Gunnar Optiks in Australia
Australian retailers for Gunnar Optiks are few, and far between but there are a few ways you can get your hands on a pair of glasses. Note that not all stockists carry the same range, and none have the full spread of styles at the time of writing.