How they work: Computer/Gaming glasses

by: Nate SwannerMarch 15, 2013


Is it technology, or voodoo? Computer glasses have been around for a few years now, and seem to be catching on. Do those tinted lenses really work, or is it a bunch of marketing nonsense? There is a quite a bit of science backing it up, and the difference is palpable. The folks at Gunnars, who are really unparalleled in this eyewear genre, were kind enough to send over a pair for me to test out. After wearing them for a few weeks, I’m a bit surprised.

We’re not going to stop looking at screens and monitors, so we should probably find a way to reduce eye fatigue. You know it, I know it… we do this for far too long each day. We game or work for hours, and our eyes are throbbing by the end of it all. Then, we have to wake up and do it all again tomorrow.



The lenses are critical to any eyewear, and a good pair of computer glasses don’t disappoint. The lenses are made to create what is defined as a “microclimate” around your eyes. They’re angled and shaped in such a way as to prevent unnecessary airflow from entering the space between your eye and the lens. The meaning of that is to create humidity, and help to prevent your eyes from drying out. Dry eyes mean blinking, and blinking means stress on those tiny little eye muscles.

The shape of the lens is also meant to deflect light. When we look at monitors close-up, our eye muscles flex to take it in. This extended period of flexion in the muscles causes strain. The shape of the lenses refracts light into the eye, meaning your muscles can relax. Try flexing your arm for long periods of time. After a while, it starts to hurt, especially after you relax the arm. Eye muscles are no different.



The amber tint on computer glasses is another very important factor to reducing strain. Maybe the yellow-ish tint is cause for suspicion, but it has a purpose. Turns out those high-powered monitors are not as awesome for our eyes as we might think.

All that high energy light emanating from your screen can be damaging over a long period of time. We tend to spend extended periods of time glaring at our games or work, so we’re taking in a lot of unnatural light. Overhead fluorescent lighting, multiple screens, lots of stuff to be done… it’s madness!

The amber tint is meant to soften the harsh coloration, all while increasing our perceived contrast. In doing so, our eyes can recover quickly during change, like navigating between different screens or pages on the same screen. The lens material is also optically pure, meaning there is no distortion on light deflection.


The theme of the day is reducing fatigue, and frames play a surprisingly big role in that. The frames are usually made of a very thin, light metal that almost disappears when you put them on. The weight of something sitting on my face was a concern for me, since I don’t wear glasses at all. Reducing fatigue and strain is the goal, and the frames do a fabulous job in the overall experience. While light, they’re not fragile or delicate.

Gunnars 3

Do they work?

When you first put a pair on, the amber tint may strike you as odd. Though after wearing them for a bit, that won’t be an issue at all. The tint may be surprising, but that may also be because you’re looking for it.

The goal of computer glasses is to reduce eye fatigue, which also reduces overall fatigue. If you’re spending long hours looking at screens, then a pair of computer glasses is probably something you should consider. The concept may be foreign to some, but the science works.

A recent independent study of computer glasses, with 100 participants, yielded some interesting results. All 100 participants reported easier viewing, with 96 people reporting reduced eye strain. An impressive 80 participants reported their eyes were just plain less tired while wearing them.

The experience

Computer glasses have an amber tint, meant to soften colors, but they don’t diminish the overall viewing experience. Colors are softened, not changed. The amber tint definitely alters things, but not greatly. It also tends to magnify things a bit, so the viewing experience can be enhanced in that respect.



The claims aren’t false… Gunnars work. If you’re going to be staring at a monitor for an hour or more, and it’s a recurring part of your life, I’d suggest checking them out. The science is legitimate, even if it’s a new concept to you. I was pretty skeptical at first, but have been pleasantly surprised by the experience. My eyes really do feel less fatigued during normal amounts of use, and wearing them (especially for someone who doesn’t wear glasses) has been less intrusive than I thought.

We stare at monitors and screens almost constantly, and that’s cause for concern to our eyes. Eye strain can cause a myriad of concerns over time, and those problems can be hard (or impossible) to reverse. If you wear glasses already, there is an option for prescription lenses, or a different tint for those who need truer colors on their monitor.

If you’re on the fence about trying them, some Best Buy locations have try-on pairs of the gaming glasses. Give them a shot, maybe pick up a pair. Over the course of a few days and weeks, you’ll start to notice it more when you don’t wear them, which is the true hallmark of a successful product.

  • pe5er

    You can get one of these,

    They are for mountain biking, but come with a yellow tinted lense that does exactly the same job. They are £20 in the UK and I find them to work really well

    • xspirits

      this is totally different…Did you actually read the article?

  • King Pajaro

    .. or you can just purchase cheap $4 yellow tinted safety glasses at your local hardware store. Keeps the eye environment humid, yellow tint blocks out the harmful “blue light” and hardly costs a thing :-) can’t say the same for style points tho.. but at least you can protect your eyes, for more than just screen strain.

    • xspirits

      The aim is quite different…

  • Adoxographist

    use flux. It tints your monitor color to yellowish color. No need to waste money on these.

    • xspirits

      That a totally different purpose as these glasses will also reduce eye fatigue and many other things.

  • Great article, Nate. I’ve been skeptical over the science behind these for some time now. I’ll have to look into a pair now.

    • xspirits

      I think you won’t regret them :). Mostly if you’re playing games or/and work a lot on your computer;

  • ld

    “The science is legitimate”

    I don’t see any science in this article. All I see is anecdotal evidence. That study on 100 participants was based on what… subjective questioning of those participants? That kind of study has lots of problems.
    I’m still waiting for real evidence these things work.

    • xspirits

      Best advice for skeptical persons would be to “give a try by yourselves”.

      As I said, I’m using them for 3 months now and I agree: it works. Eye fatigue is not anymore present for example, easy focus on the screen…
      But…yes, you could definitively give a try to them.

      • ld

        You’re saying the same thing the article does. Your opinion as an owner of the glasses does have a bit of value… but not that much, because you’re human and thus have a healthy dose of Post-purchase rationalization like we all do. My criticism of the article is about the use of the word “science”. A true science test of the glasses would have some kind of double-blind test to separate out the placebo effect. Ideally it would also have some way to test eye fatigue without resorting to questioning the participants.

        • xspirits


          In the meantime I’m the type of customer you’ll either hate or love. I can be as I’m with gunnars, extremely positive (may be too much) but the opposite is true.

          Being a human don’t imply being out of objectivity,even more if there’s no true feelings involved like here. Not saying I was purely objective, just that I’m an enthusiast about this product but still can see what kind of improvement could be made on them.
          I could write a more detailed feedback, but my english isn’t at the time strong enough to explain which part do what (like, you know, the tiny plastic thing which laid on your nose to sustain the glasses ?). :(

          About the “Science” use, yes. Obviously we can’t really rely only on a selected sample of people. The important thing is not selling an unfinished product, which could ruin or degrade the eye vision, by insuring the quality fit the standards.

          May be they tested it a bit more deeply of what we can know, who know? Tracking “eye fatigue” shall be hard, and long process, but I’m not an engineer.

  • xspirits

    I personnally own gunnars, the yellow model ( SHEADOG : ) for 3months now.

    So far I can say that everything is pretty accurate regarding to the product specs/description.

    No more eye fatigue… Impressive. Furthermore, you can really rely on them to help you focusing on what you’re doing. Basic exemple, you eyes tend to focus more on your screen than what’s around. That’s really interesting, mostly because you don’t lose your attention for anything with them.

    The article is right when it says “When you first put a pair on, the amber tint may strike you as odd.”. But yes, you’ll get use to and I can tell you that worth the 2/3 days of accomodation.