How they work: Computer/Gaming glasses

March 15, 2013
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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.

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Lenses

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.

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Tint

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.

Frames

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.

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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.

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Conclusion

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.

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