October 21, 2011

Gunnar Optiks: Yellow-Tinted Gaming Glasses

While I typ­i­cal­ly tend to ignore most of the ads on the side of my Face­book page, I occa­sion­al­ly find one that inter­ests me. That’s how I found out about my now-favorite game store, and it’s also how I first heard about Gun­nar Optiks. Gun­nar Optiks pro­duces glass­es that reduce eye strain and enhance con­trast on screens, and are mar­ket­ed towards both fre­quent com­put­er users who suf­fer from var­i­ous eye­strain relat­ed symp­toms, and towards the pro­fes­sion­al gam­ing com­mu­ni­ty. Two of the gam­ing mod­els in the Gun­nar prod­uct line­up are endorsed by MLG, and a few more bear the SteelSeries name.
When I first heard about these, I won­dered about them for only a few min­utes before I moved on. They bear a pret­ty hefty price tag for some­thing that may or may not actu­al­ly help you at all. How­ev­er, a full year lat­er, curios­i­ty and incred­i­bly sen­si­tive, fre­quent­ly blood­shot eyes got the best of me. I got the “PPK” mod­el from Best Buy for about $80 on Tues­day.  My opin­ion of them has fluc­tu­at­ed, but after using them for a few days, I’m hap­py with my pur­chase. I’ll talk you through my expe­ri­ence.
One thing to note is that these are not “glass­es” in the tra­di­tion­al sense; they’re designed for peo­ple with nor­mal vision and are more com­pa­ra­ble in func­tion to sun­shades. If you use glass­es, I might sug­gest wear­ing con­tacts under­neath these if you tru­ly feel you need the strain reduc­tion. How­ev­er, in that case, I’d rec­om­mend talk­ing to your optometrist to see if there’s a bet­ter solu­tion.
When I first put on the Gun­nars, I was quite under­whelmed. They turn every­thing yel­low. That’s pret­ty much all it looks like they do. Look at a screen, and every­thing’s yel­low­er than nor­mal. I was fair­ly dis­ap­point­ed in them with­in the first hour or so, but I decid­ed to keep them on through­out the day to see how well they worked. It should be not­ed that an adver­tised fea­ture of these glass­es is screen glare reduc­tion. It does this mod­er­ate­ly well, but if your screen is kind of dirty and has an enor­mous win­dow shin­ing on it like mine does, there’s only so much it can be helped.
I real­ly began to notice a dif­fer­ence on the first night of using the Gun­nars. The pri­ma­ry light source in my room is a giant flu­o­res­cent bulb built into my desk, less than two feet from my face when I’m using the com­put­er. It’s typ­i­cal­ly a bright, shiny punch to the eye­balls, but the Gun­nars real­ly cut down on the strain that it gen­er­al­ly caus­es. It turns out that these glass­es are far more effec­tive at com­bat­ing strain in set­tings where your pri­ma­ry light source is flu­o­res­cent or incan­des­cent. In day­light, they’re less nec­es­sary. When I woke up the next morn­ing after first using the Gun­nars, I was incred­i­bly impressed by the lack of red­ness in my eyes. Typ­i­cal­ly, they’re blood­shot if I use the com­put­er past mid­night.
After a few days of play­ing all sorts of games with these glass­es on, I can attest to their per­for­mance enhanc­ing capa­bil­i­ties. How­ev­er, these aren’t “100 meter dash” glass­es, they’re more suit­ed to gam­ing marathons. Wear­ing them dur­ing a com­pet­i­tive match won’t real­ly do much more than cut a bit of screen glare and pos­si­bly increase the con­trast a bit. How­ev­er, if you’re plan­ning on play­ing a fair­ly ocu­lar inten­sive game (such as a first per­son shoot­er or a game with a lot of small things on screen to pay atten­tion to) for hours on end, these will def­i­nite­ly save you a lot of headache (lit­er­al­ly). Play for five hours straight with a naked eye, and try again the next day with Gun­nars; you’ll def­i­nite­ly notice a dif­fer­ence.
While the Gun­nars do a pret­ty good job of per­form­ing their adver­tised func­tions, they also have to be judged on the same qual­i­ties as any oth­er sort of eye­wear. They’re still, in essence, a cloth­ing arti­cle, so com­fort and style come into play. The PPKs are some of the most nar­row of the bunch, and they look nice, sleek, and pro­fes­sion­al. They’re com­fort­able to wear for long peri­ods of time, and the tem­ples are thin and flat so as to not inter­fere with head­set-wear­ing. They’ve worked with every head­set I’ve tried wear­ing with them, but there could pos­si­bly be an issue with espe­cial­ly large over-the-ear head­sets. All of the Gun­nar gam­ing mod­els are designed with head­set-wear­ing in mind, and they come in a vari­ety of styles (espe­cial­ly pop­u­lar are the MLG Leg­ends, which are an “Avi­a­tor” style).
All in all, I feel as though the Gun­nar Optiks PPK glass­es were a good addi­tion to my set of gam­ing gear. Those of you who don’t pull long stints ingame and don’t have sen­si­tive eyes or headaches might want to give them a pass, but for me, they’re great per­for­mance enhancers. You can order Gun­nars online, or buy them at Best Buy and a num­ber of oth­er stores. The Gun­nar Optiks web­site has a handy store loca­tor.
Pros:

  • Com­fort­able and styl­ish
  • Good for sen­si­tive eyes, strain-induced headaches, and long gam­ing ses­sions
  • Don’t inter­fere with head­set usage
Cons:
  • The yel­low tint can some­times be hard to ignore
  • The ben­e­fi­cial effects aren’t imme­di­ate­ly notice­able
  • Not as effec­tive in nat­ur­al light as in arti­fi­cial light, how­ev­er in nat­ur­al light they are less nec­es­sary

 

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