Let’s talk about your eyes for a moment. Since you’re reading this, I’m going to venture a guess that you spend a considerable amount of time in front of a computer. Chances are that, at the end of a long day, you look away and realize that you have a headache, or difficulty focusing. It’s called eye fatigue, and Gunnar Optiks wants to help you get rid of it.
The fact of eye fatigue is nothing new, but it’s only been in the past few years when both we computer users and the medical profession have started to really pay attention to the problems that we’re producing. Though if we go all the way back to 1989, we can see the road that leads to the problem at hand.
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A study from the National Institute of Health revealed that, in participants who suffered from eye strain-related headaches, reading and bright lights were found to be the most irritating factors. Relating that to computers, we tend to read on bright, back-lit displays, so it’s no wonder that we’re aggravating an already-existing condition.
In order to help alleviate the problems, a few things need to happen. We need to have an unimpeded view of our surroundings, we need protection from glare and our eyes need to be properly lubricated. While there are loads of choices on the market for computer eyewear, Gunnar appears to have done more research and work than any other company. These efforts shine through in the company’s products.
Gunnars are comprised of a few important pieces. First, there’s the lenses. They’re made from a proprietary material that Gunnar calls Diamix. The intention is for it to be optically pure, avoiding the fogginess and glare that can come from other types of materials. Secondarily, the lenses tend to wrap around your face more than traditional glasses, keeping air currents at bay so that your eyes stay moist. But the biggest thing that I’ve noticed is a lack of glare while wearing Gunnars, and this comes from a coating system dubbed I-FI.
Rules of thumb such as 20/20/20 (every twenty minutes focus on something twenty feet away for twenty seconds) have been the “answer” to eye strain. But founder Jenny Michelsen knew that we needed a more active form of protection which didn’t rely on setting schedules or interrupting your work. Her husband was experiencing “computer vision syndrome”, and her three year old son was starting on a path that would lead to it as well.
So Michelsen went to work, developing a prototype of the glasses that would become Gunnars (named after her son). The company has been around since 2007, but recent deals with major outlets such as Best Buy and promotions via professional gaming have brought Gunnar into the spotlight in the past year.
At CES in Las Vegas, I got a chance to get hands on with the company’s newest release, a line of eyewear called Crystalline. Gunnar’s glasses have always had an amber tint, which filtered out blue light and enhanced colors. But for people doing video or image work, the solution became the problem. Crystalline lenses are, as their name implies, crystal clear. Now those who work on the graphic side of things don’t have to worry about seeing colors that aren’t pure just because they want to reduce eye fatigue.
I’ve been a big fan of what Gunnar has been doing for quite some time, and the Crystalline glasses answer a very specific problem that I’ve had. While I don’t do a ton of visual work, some of the audio editing programs that I regularly use have colors that are affected by the amber tint. After wearing the Crystallines for three days, I haven’t had any issues.
There are a lot of choices on the market for computer eyewear. But when you measure up the technology, research and patents that Gunnar has put together, there’s nothing on the market that can compare. In the time that I’ve spent with them, I’ve noted that my eyes aren’t as dry, my vision doesn’t blur at the end of the day and — best of all — I no longer suffer from headaches after a long day. Prices range from around $80 to $100, depending on the style that you chose. But for a long-term solution to eye strain? Gunnars are worth every penny.