Review: Gunnar Designed by Razer

I’ll admit it: I’ve long been a skeptic of Gunnar glasses. In an industry that’s over-accessorized, wearing non-prescription glasses to game seemed pointless to me. After many years of doubt, however, I’ve finally be given the opportunity to go hands-on with a pair as Gunnar makes their biggest push yet into the competitive gaming world. The company has recently teamed with Razer to let their brilliant designers concoct a line of special Razer branded glasses. With a respected brand name by their side that epitomizes competitive gaming paraphernalia, it’s time to take a look at (or through) Gunnar and see if they really do work.

Let’s not tiptoe around it: Gunnar Gaming Eyewear are glorified computer glasses. As far as for gaming uses versus general monitor uses, the only way Gunnar glasses could improve your game is by reducing screen glare. In this department, their effects are largely negligible in terms of making it easier to make out details on the screen. So while Gunnars don’t actually improve gaming in itself, what they do accomplish is making staring at a screen for hours less straining on the eyes, which is crucial for competitive gamers or those who routinely do marathon sessions.

The most important thing Gunnar accomplishes is reducing the harsh blue light spectrum from monitors. Artificial light from modern monitors has a narrow band of high energy light. With a distinctively yellow lens tent, Gunnars filter out the blue light and reduces high energy visible light. While this might not seem all that crucial, lifting up a pair of Gunnars after wearing them for a few minutes as you’re looking at your monitor results in a short and sharp burst of an uncomfortable feeling in your eye. Instantly, the screen seems harsh and too bright whereas with Gunnars on it seemed much more neutral. Alas, your eyes readjust to this blue light after a few seconds and it no longer seems like this a problem. Whether or not that’s because your eyes have readjusted to an irritating light spectrum or simply if  they had to readjust after having a strong yellow filter over them is questionable, but it sure seems a lot like the former.

The next issue Gunnar glasses tackle is that of screen glare. The lens are coated with a special anti-reflective materials that reduce reflections and glare, allowing eyes to focus easier on screen images. While cheaper computer glasses use a material that gets hazy over time, Gunnar have an external hard coat to increase performance and durability over time. Finally, there’s a slight magnifying effect when wearing the glasses. Although usually not even touted in marketing, I found this to be helpful in that I had much less of an urge to lean forward (a posture-destroying tactic) to read small text on the screen.

As far as computer glasses in general go, Gunnar far and away produce the highest quality product. Make no mistake, there are far from a gaming gimmick. Made out of aluminum-magnesium temples and thermoplastic rubber temples, these simply scream quality, rivaling the build of designer eyewear. The glasses are ultra-light and flexible and stay comfortable during long sessions. I’ve worn them for hours upon hours at a time and never once felt a pinch at my temples or too much weight on my nose, which is something rare even for designer frames. They’re not cheap, but the price matches the quality and renders them the best choice for those in the market for computer glasses, gamers or not. There’s ultimately not a whole lot different in the Razer line versus the other Gunnar lines besides the green stripe, but the frame designs the firms have come up with are some of the most appealing yet. I’ve been using Cerberus, the shape of which I absolutely love. Similar to the Vinyl model, Cerberus are thin and streamlined in all the right ways and actually look cool in addition to providing safety benefits — a rare combination.

When it comes to eye strain, there seems to be two camps. Those that constantly complain about headaches and eye strain from monitors and those that have no idea what the other camp is talking about. I fall into the latter camp although I use monitors for ungodly amounts of time per day. There’s been times where after especially long sessions, my eyes feel dry and irritated and I have an urge to rub them after walking away from the monitor. Still, it’s never seemed like a big enough problem to need a solution. That then brings up the million dollar question about using Gunnars. I would without pause recommend (note that this is a personal recommendation and an opinion from a professional optometrist should probably be sought out) those who experience noticeable and chronic eye strain from monitors to try Gunnars. If they noticeably improve this condition, their continued use doesn’t seem like an issue. What I do worry about, however, are users such as myself who don’t see (no pun intended) eye strain as a big enough nuisance to seek correction. I wonder if a dependance on computer glasses could make it so that looking at monitors without them could now be a more noticeable problem than it was before. Also, not keeping them perfectly clean (which seems fairly difficult as even with a provided cleaning kit, removing smudges completely seemed difficult — perhaps due to the AR lens coating) could possibly contribute to eye strain.

After many years of disinterest, trying Gunnar glasses has made me a believer. Computer glasses such as these do indeed have noticeable effects and seem to reduce eyestrain. In fact, I’m wearing them as I type this article (and for the last ten hours straight staring at screens) and my eyes feel perfectly relaxed. The biggest concern with Gunnar glasses is the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” rule. Those who don’t experience eye strain or don’t see eye strain as a noticeable nuisance might want to steer clear of computer glasses and continue using technology as normal. Those who do experience any sort of eye symptoms related to screen use, however, should give Gunnar a go. Not only does this new Razer line look cool, but it could go a long way in helping remedy eye issues for competitive and regular gamers alike.