I’ve been wearing Gunnar Optiks every single day now for several weeks, to really get a proper feel for them by putting them through a stress test in every possible scenario whether it’s gaming, work or reading. Of the five samples provided to me, I took a fond liking to the Wi-Five Espresso model for its look, fit and overall comfort. We agree that Gunnar Optiks look great, they have incredible appeal especially amongst gamers, the benefits all sound believable, but the biggest question has been are they worth the fairly high price tag?
In this in-depth review, I speak about every use a pair of eyewear can and should serve, broken down into categories for you the reader to form your own decisions based on what your personal usage would be.
A recap on what the advertised health benefits of Gunnar Optiks are:
- Reduce eye-strain
- Alleviate eye fatigue, dry eyes or itchy eyes
- No more headaches
- Improve contrast ratio
- Block out harmful artificial lighting
Gunnars instantly improved my shooter-game performance, both first-person and third-person. With the slight magnification of these lenses it popped the image just enough, making things appear slightly bigger or ‘closer.’ This made it more comfortable to take in all of the action without the hassle of eye-strain usually caused by a combination of leaning forward while playing, the fast-paced nature of these types of games, or the fact that you hardly blink while after that next kill or to avoid being knifed in the ear lobe. With high-tech lens technology that blocks out harmful UV rays, these signature yellow lenses improve the contrast of on-screen visuals and reduce the amount of light coming back at you, further improving your comfort level while allowing you to see things better and react faster. Detail on screen appears sharper or more defined, allowing for enemies to be spotted from further distances away. Headaches have also completely vanished while playing games.
The Gunnars didn’t provide much of a noticeable performance increase in other genres like fighting, football or rhythm games, even though those are fairly fast-paced as well. Nonetheless, playing any game involves keeping your eyes fixed on the screen, so in terms of the benefits for your eyes it’s definitely worthwhile irrespective of the genre you play. If you’re a gamer, you will definitely not regret investing in Gunnars.
Whether its e-mail, drafting a financial report, graphic designing or research, you’re spending many hours looking at the screen, often times with one elbow on the desk holding up your head, with your eyes shifting left to right, and up and down across several lines of text or imagery. Clock strikes 12, you know it’s time for bed, you’re pinching your eyes trying to concentrate but your body is telling you to call it a night. Gunnars remedies all of this. With the slight magnification of the Gunnar Optiks lenses everything appears closer, allowing you to comfortably sit back against your chair. The composition of the lenses – their UV-protected tinting and improving of contrast – allows your eyes to rest completely, eradicating that squinting/pinching habit we often find ourselves doing. So when it comes to those nights when you have a deadline and you just have to burn the midnight oil, Gunnars sees you through it (pun intended) by allowing you to do what you need to do for extended hours without the hindrances of your eyes not being able to handle it anymore or your body cramping up because of poor sitting posture. Here too, headaches are also completely gone.
Depending on the lighting of indoor areas, Gunnars may or may not be of benefit to you as everyone has more or less sensitive eyes than others. I for one have a high sensitivity to light (I’m not a vampire I swear), which I believe many others have as a similar problem, and this is where I started noticing the value for money that Gunnar Optiks provides. Places like shopping malls sometimes tend to be very bright, as well as shops or venues with several fluorescent lights fitted to the ceiling. Some places are quite dimly lit whether due to down lights or corner lights, yet in both these scenarios I found that I’d rather wear the Gunnars than take them off. Visibility was more comfortable and balanced, I’d lift them above my eyes when talking to people face to face but otherwise for general visibility, they proved to bring about a noticeable benefit.
Gunnar Optiks are available in outdoor-specific models, tinted black like traditional sunshades. These aren’t necessarily available in South Africa at this time of writing, however, I found this Wi-Five Espresso model – part of the Advanced Computer Eyewear (ACE) range – to serve the purpose of outdoor usage just fine. As touched on in the Indoor section, my high sensitivity to light is even more intense when outdoors. It’s not very comfortable going out in the sun without wearing sunshades, yet one day I stepped outside in the sun while wearing the Gunnars and it only dawned on me several minutes later that I was not squinting, yet I was not wearing sunshades. The yellow lenses of Gunnar Optiks deflect the bright rays of sunlight due to their UV-protection, which in-turn allowed me to see comfortably without the usual need for traditional dark-lense sunshades. Gunnars even make your environment look more vibrant when outside, with the improvement on contrast and colour, seeing the world through Gunnar Optiks appears more pleasurable than without them.
They definitely improved night time visuals especially when driving due to the improved contrast provided by the lenses. The magnification of Gunnar Optiks did not provide much benefit because objects on the road are at a further distance away. Overall, it did improve my awareness, and by driving with them off for a while and then on again, can I confidently say that there’s enough of an improvement coming from Gunnar Optiks to warrant their usage even at night while driving. The only drawback, however, and it’s not a deal breaker, is that the lights of oncoming cars appear as bluish green lights directly in front of your eye due to the yellow lens tints, so some users might see it as a distraction. It does not, however, cause any visual impairment that would otherwise put you or your passengers at any risk as it goes away as soon as the oncoming cars pass by, however, this is something that one would have to test for themselves should they own a pair.
If you own a Tablet and you use it to catch up on your reading, please refer to the Work section as the exact same benefits apply. If you’re reading traditional books with a night light and depending on how bright or dim it is so that you don’t annoy anyone in your vicinity, Gunnars may benefit you slightly or not at all, but it won’t negatively affect your reading experience. With everyone’s eyesight being different, if you find yourself reading at night with a dim light then Gunnars will make your reading experience better, and also is more likely to keep you engaged. The magnification of the lenses makes the text appear more crisp while at the same time making them appear slightly larger, and the yellow tint of the lenses makes the black text pop on white paper which in turn improves the contrast, thus allowing a more comfortable and pleasurable experience overall.
It could potentially benefit a cricket player, but I’d recommend that you don’t wear your Gunnars for any physical activity. See Build Quality section further below.
I already wear spectacles, are these available as prescription lenses?
Gunnar Optiks are available in prescription lenses which they call Rx technology, however, these are not something that can just be bought as an optometrist would need to support and stock them. Gunnar is currently working on bringing this range into South Africa, but at the time of writing there is no set date.
Getting used to them, build quality and physical comfort
It takes about two days to properly get used to Gunnars. At first everything does appear yellow, but soon enough you actually stop seeing yellow as your eyes adjust quite smoothly. Depending on what kind of Gunnar user you are – whether wearing them all day or only in certain situations – you may find that it will take three or four days to get used to them if you wear them seldom.
Gunnar Optiks are lightweight in order to remain comfortable for several hours at a time. They are also durable, so if they fall on the ground they will not break, but I cannot imagine a pair withstanding anyone tramping on it. I would recommend you do not use them during any physical activity in order to keep them safe.
Depending on how many hours you’re wearing your Gunnars, you may experience a slightly uncomfortable fatigue sensation towards the back of your head where the frames’ arms end, but this varies according to the model. Some models have rubber supports, some do not. This sensation has only happened to me a handful of times, and usually only late at night after a full days usage. This is remedied by simply taking them off for a bit, or adjusting them to sit correctly.
Usage with a headset is very comfortable, the Advanced Gaming Eyewear (AGE) category is advertised as headset-friendly due to the way the arms are made, however, wearing this Wi-Five Espresso ACE model and testing it with Logitech, Tritton, Turtle Beach and Gioteck headsets did not prove uncomfortable at all. There might be a slight improvement with the AGE models, but the ACE model was in no way a problem for me while wearing a 5.1 headset.
AGE versus ACE
Gunnar Optiks are categorised in product groups, the most popular of them being Advanced Gaming Eyewear (AGE) and Advanced Computer Eyewear (ACE).
There is not much notable difference between these two categories other than styling, certain technologies incorporated into the AGE and the slightly improved headset support on the AGE as well. A lot of effort has been put into the AGE category to ensure the best possible experience for improved performance, but I cannot see a massive jump in benefits over the already amazing ACE category after testing them both. Ultimately you do not need one pair for general usage and another pair for gaming.
Additional information on the AGE category is available at the following website link: Advanced Gaming Eyewear
Buying advice and where to get them
There are a variety of different styles, each with different dimensions so that you can find the right one that will fit your face the best, however, it must be said that the only real ‘negative’ drawback of Gunnar Optiks is that it’s difficult to figure out what the right choice for your face would be by using only the online style guides available at the Gunnar Optiks website. The best advice I can give depending on your location and how available Gunnar Optiks are to you, is to try on a friend’s pair if you know someone who has them and then use their model as a guideline, taking note of the dimensions which are available at the website’s product pages.
Gunnars can be purchased from several notable online stores such as ZapsOnline, My-Gadgets and Gaming Cartel. For those of you in Cape Town you can get them at Gecosports Gaming Arena, where you will be able to test a few style options yourself and in-game, and all questions regarding styling or what’s the best fit for your face can be answered.
Care for your Gunnars
Gunnar Eyewear Carrying Cases are also available (sold separately), allowing for proper protection and transportation of your Gunnars. The cases are made in the hard-shell style which is sturdy yet lightweight and not too large, easily carried around in a backpack or handbag. Avoid leaving your case in direct sunlight though. All Gunnar Optiks models come with a white felt pouch which can double up as a cleaning cloth as well.
Gunnar Optiks provides great value for money, catering for several more practical uses and most importantly their beneficial health benefits. Eye-fatigue, dry eyes and headaches are completely non-existent once you get used to them. In terms of gaming, they significantly improve your performance. In terms of work, they significantly improve your productivity. If I had to make an attempt at describing the sensation of what Gunnar Optiks feels like, I’d have to say that it’s like that feeling when you rest your head on a soft pillow and in a comfortable bed, but for your eyes.
|Aesthetics||5/5||Gunnars come in several stylish options. Every model has an appeal depending on your own tastes, and with such a varied selection you’d likely find a pair that you can identify with.|
|Quality||5/5||They are well-constructed, are just the right weight and can take a fall without breaking. The hardshell case is recommended though.|
|Functionality||5/5||They do what they are meant to do plus more. It allows you to protect your eyes efficiently and comfortably.|
|Value||5/5||They come at a fairly high price, however, given its functions and benefits and the fact that it costs less than prescription computer eyewear, the cost is definitely worth it.|