Gunnar Computer Eyewear reviewed – Can eyewear help alleviate headaches?

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The very first time I tried on a pair of Gunnar Optics, it was half a decade ago, and the company was still very much trying to market its product solely at gamers. Their claims then, along with their branding and marketing made spurious claims about their ability to make you a better gamer.

I received a set of them for review, put them on, and within in five minutes it felt like my brain was trying to escape through my ocular cavities. So piercing was the headache and the nausea that I immediately sent them off to somebody else to review. Similarly, when we had the chance to give them another go a little later, I passed up on that opportunity so hard I think the earth shifted on its axis.

More recently, they seem to have taken on a little more of a subdued marketing stance – and that’s despite hooking up with gaming peripheral peddler Razer as an official product partner. They’ve dropped much of their marketing mumbo-jumbo, no longer making wild promises about their mystical I-AMP technology, IONIK lens tints or FRACTYL designs – instead just focusing on their promises to reduce eye strain.

Emissary

I’ve changed too. In recent years, I’ve noticed that my days (and most nights) spent in front of a screen are causing me significant eye strain, leading to furrowed brows, haunched shoulders and daily headaches. Seeing as I now regularly suffer from crippling headaches, I thought I’d have nothing to lose but my lunch.

My initial impressions with a new set (a pretty sexy design called the Emissary – with clear lenses instead of the yellow ones this time) weren’t too different from the very first time I wore Gunnars. Within minutes it felt like I needed a lie down and a hug. I soldiered on though, and within two days the headaches were gone.

More than that though, is that within the first week of use I noticed that my shoulders weren’t so tense, and those daily headaches I was experiencing were subsiding. Perhaps it’s placebo or perhaps there is something to Gunnar’s lenses. The frame is exceptionally lightweight and comfortable, as are the lenses themselves, so they’re a pleasure to wear all day.

They seem to allow for a little more pin-point focus. By filtering out unnecessary blue light (that’s the stuff your screen and the energy-efficient florescent lightbulbs are beaming out at you) through a combination of lens materials and lens tints.

They also make claims that their lenses will allow you to see things a little more clearly, and I found this to be true. Hardly a scientific test, admittedly, but I found in-game text on my TV from about 2 and a half metres away considerably clearer with the glasses on, than with them off. The same goes for the text on the laptop screen that I stare at daily. A little sharper, a little more in focus.

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One of the coatings adds anti-reflective properties to the front and rear of each lens, to help stem visual distractions and reduce glare. It seems to work well enough, but without any real way to test just how reflective the lenses are with and without the coating, it’s impossible to say. There is one missing coating that I do wish these things had that they don’t. They’re rather prone to oily smudges and fingerprints, and some sort of oleophobic treatment would mean I’d have spent a lot less time cleaning them.

They also claim that the design of the frames will help stave off dry eyes. Here’s what Gunnar themselves say about it:

“Our highly wrapped frame limits air currents and increases humidity to form a protective barrier around the eye,” and that “GUNNARS increase humidity levels and reduce muscular strain resulting in eyes that are refreshed, protected and able to function more comfortably and efficiently.”

Of all the claims that Gunnars make, this seems the most spurious and silly.

There are some persistent problems with Gunnars lenses too. As we’ve said before, while they work quite nicely to filter out artificial light, they still induce headaches when they go up against the sort that comes off of the yellow star our planet revolves around. Because of that, they’re hard to recommend for regular wear even if you manage to get prescription Gunnar lenses. Of course, that’s not their point. They’re made to appeal to the digital generation; people who spend hours every day getting blasted in the face with blue light.

For their price – that’s over R1000 for non-corrective eyewear – it’s a steep buy in for something that may or may not work for you. They’re not going to give you BraveStar’s Eyes of the Hawk, and they’re not even worth considering if you don’t already suffer from headaches and eyestrain. If you do suffer from those things though, they could offer sweet, sweet relief. They are, however, a little stingy on the accessories. For the money, I’d hope for a hard case and a cloth, but instead all you get is a dual-purpose, soft microfiber baggie.

I came in as a sceptic, but Gunnar Computer Eyewear has helped eradicate my persistent daily headaches.

Last Updated: August 29, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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