If you've been following our streams on Twitch or listening to our podcast, you'll likely fully aware of how much we enjoy poking fun at the professional gaming scene. Folks like Fatal1ty, the concept of "gaming glasses" and other facets of this extreme pro gamer culture seem to exist in this weird world where everyone has decided to take video games infinitely more seriously than we do. Not to say we don't take iOS games (or video games in general) seriously, but there's an order of magnitude of difference here. I've, for instance, never used chemical hand warmers before playing a game to increase my actions per minute, or anything close to that.

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How much better we'd be doing in video games, particularly the iOS games I play while streaming, if I was wearing professional gaming glasses has been a running joke forever. In my mind, those silly yellow glasses you'd see practically glued to the head of pro gamers like Meteos embodied everything that was ridiculous about this whole scene. It really doesn't take much to roll your eyes at them, Gunnar is leading the charge and hit up their "How They Work" page you'll be thrown a pitch that sounds like the world's most convincing snake oil salesman selling you on his magical cure-all. So, in my mind, they always existed in that category of product for people with more money than sense, and I never thought about it too much more.

Anyway, we deal with lots of marketing and PR companies with TouchArcade, especially with bigger budget games or products. Sandbox Strategies is on my (incredibly) short list of these outfits that I really enjoy working with, and as part of preparing for the launch of one of the products they were promoting, the Steel Series Stratus, we somehow got on the topic of non-iOS stuff they were doing and Gunnar glasses came up. I don't remember what my exact response was to the offer that they send me a pair, but, I'm pretty sure it was something along the lines of "LOL, alright."

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A couple weeks later the FedEx dude dropped off my bright yellow gaming glasses, and I was left with a huge "Alright, well now what" feeling. Wandering around my house, looking at things tinted yellow, I started to suspect my suspicions were true. FedEx in my part of town comes pretty late in the day, and I was already done working at the time, so I just put them on my desk and went on with my evening.

It took a couple days before I started wearing them, with the likely catalyst being me wandering around looking for my glasses, sitting down at my desk, and figuring I'd just wear my Gunnars instead. Initially, again, it seemed like the sole difference using them was that my screen was slightly yellow, that's about it.

jgxV0Y5I figured I'd spend more time with them, try wearing them for a week, and then see what if any difference I notice in going back to my other glasses… Which is when the whole thing hit me. When you spend your day staring at an LCD wearing Gunnars, it's straight up unpleasant to look at your display with normal glasses. It results in the experience encapsulated in this tweet and feeling like this squinty dog image that's been floating around the internet forever.

For better or for worse, Gunnar glasses do actually allow me to spend more time staring at my computer screen. I'm still not entirely sure about all the crazy features they boast, but one thing is for certain: When you're just used to how your vision is, and dealing with eye strain using a computer, it never feels like anything is wrong. You start doing the whole squinting thing, closing your eyes hard, rubbing them as it gets later in the day, and this is all both kind of normal and something you don't really think about.

But, it's actually really surprisingly nice not needing to deal with that anymore, and the only cost of removing these sorts of annoyances from your life is wearing some admittedly pretty silly looking yellow glasses. I used to be pretty happy to get off my computer in the evening and go look at something else, and never really felt like playing computer games after staring at the WordPress back end of TouchArcade all day… But that's not really the case anymore wearing Gunnars while I work. It's weird how you just take computer eye strain for granted, and adjust your day around it, without ever really thinking about why you're feeling that way or doing that.

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I'm not about to say "If you use a computer, you must go buy some Gunnars," or anything like that… But if you're like me and always sort of dismissed these kind of glasses as gimmicky, you really owe it to yourself to try 'em out. Chances are, you'll be pleasantly surprised. In fact, it's too bad Gunnars aren't sold in more stores, as I think sell tons more if you were able to actually get a pair on your face and look at a computer monitor versus just looking at their web site and getting the hard sell on all the magical features they have, as seeing really is believing.

I started telling friends, "Hey, these glasses are actually pretty great, you should try them out," and was met with more than a few "Yeah, no crap, I've been wearing a pair while working for ages now." So, apparently, I'm just behind the curve. Again.

As far as whether or not Gunnars are for you if you're specifically looking to use them while playing iOS games, I'm not so sure. Where they really seem to shine is in extended viewing sessions, where you're able to wear them and look at something long enough to forget that everything has a yellow tinge. In the mobile world, play sessions are typically so short and you're often looking at other things so much that you don't seem to really experience the full benefit.

If, however, you're working in an office under nasty neon lights or play computer games for hours at a time, you've really got to try these. A week of use and Gunnar managed to turn someone like me who couldn't possibly be more skeptical about their glasses to someone who wears them daily? That's pretty huge.

  • iOSPeace

    Yeah I play professional CoD on the xbox and they work a ton better than my glasses I wear daily. They also have prescription based glasses so you can wear them with your your prescribed lenses. It's so much better than the normal glasses i used to wear

  • loox

    Awesome article. I'm gonna have to check these out.
    Thanks.

    • gmattergames

      Yeah, if Gunner isn't sliding Eli cash for that glowing endorsement, they should be; I'm sold.

  • misfitskater6

    I think glasses like these are pretty popular for people that work on computers all day to reduce eye strain, but aren't they still very overpriced for what they are? I'd imagine about any yellow tinted glasses would work just as well. Personally I just install f.lux on my computer and iDevices to get a similar effect.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      They're pretty much in line with what I've paid for prescription glasses over the years.

      • zergslayer69

        So you had prescription gunnars? Same yellow tinted glasses but with a prescription to it? What strength are your glasses? The site says a lot of the frames don't support a strength over a certain amount (it's not very high). And did you just pay it completely out of pocket or did your insurance cover a portion?

      • Spaztika

        I'm wondering this too. I may call the company but I have a feeling that my prescription is too crazy for these glasses. Pretty bad astigmatism and myopia. It sucks because my eyes are so sensitive to glare, these would be perfect.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Yeah, my prescription is really minor, like -1.5 or something in that area with a lil' astigmatism correction thrown in for good measure.

  • Kyle

    I have to wonder how much of the problem is just uncalibrated displays. Most displays (TVs, monitors, iPhones...) come with the brightness set at 80-100%. The first thing a lot of people do with their new phone is turn off auto brightness and crank it up to 100%.

    But when you calibrate a display the first thing you usually do is turn the brightness down to 10-20% and then adjust the contrast and RGB to the profile you want. It can make the display look dull by comparison but it looks a lot better overall and is less tiring.

    Couldn't you even replicate the effect of the Gunnars by loading a colour profile?

    • HelperMonkey

      But these are sooo much easier. And you look totally serious when you wear them.
      Besides.. Tinkering with computer settings is nerdy. Wearing gaming glasses, on the other hand, is geeky. So that's a no-brainer. Right?

      • gmattergames

        Geek + weird glasses = Hipster, right?

    • jdog90000

      That's what f.lux does. It's a pretty awesome program.

    • isana

      First thing I do when I get a new phone is turn down the brightness to <50%. ;)

      Anyway, at work, we're not allowed to tweak the computer settings, so installing something like f.lux isn't an option. I forgot that you can manually adjust the monitor settings though. Any suggestions on what kind of color/contrast tweaking would be best for a night shift screen?

  • famousringo

    It's pretty simple, really. Yellow is the slice of the spectrum that human eyes are best attuned to. If you filter out the rest, things generally look sharper and more distinct.

    Hence why they sell glasses much like these to drivers and shooters. They'd be useful anywhere where lighting is good, vision is important, but colour is not.

  • Evan

    Its not just the yellow tint or too much brightness on peoples displays. Coding all day long there are times when I start to notice the strain, and I have my brightness turned down as much as I can before it annoys me. The gunnars definitely help when it comes to this. They also do some slight magnification which helps when reading text.

    Id never buy them full price though, wait for a sale on woot, they seem to sell gunnars once every 2 weeks, and you can get a pair for ~40$

  • Alexythimia23

    Great article, changed my mind about these glasses as i also have the same problems with sight, might have to hunt down a pair!

  • zergslayer69

    It seems nobody has mentioned this yet, but I wear prescription glasses and last I was shopping on the gunnar site, a lot of them are incompatible with prescriptions over a certain strength (mine is -7.5 so it's pretty strong). So that's out.

    However I have been using a free little program for windows called f.lux which will adjust the color temp of your screen based on the time of day it is. Late at night it'll be very warm, very obviously orangey. If your trade is fixing photos in photoshop you won't want this, but for everybody else the extra warm color temp makes it A LOT easier on the eyes. You won't feel like your retinas are being set on fire while using a computer in a dark room. Heck I even have it installed on my ipad (jailbreak required). I suspect the gunnar glasses do this on a somewhat similar level.

  • HelperMonkey

    Why don't we wear rose-colored glasses, like the TA crew, so that every game looks like it's worthy of four or five stars?
    (Ooh! SNAP!)

    • iosuser

      That's funny!

  • Dokrane

    I use Gunnar glasses at work - being an IT Analyst I deal with 9 hours of eye-to-screen work. Without the glasses I would get a headache by day 3. Trying to sell the idea of the glasses to other people in the office is always met with an awkward look of disbelief. But they work. Very well.

    It's also important to note that Gunnar has different series of glasses - gaming. Glasses aren't the same curvature as their series for computer use. Suffice to say, if I use their gaming style glasses I can't walk a straight line because it feels as though I'm walking on a wavy floor and walls are curved. The computer use ones are very useful and don't impede vision when looking at regular stuff around you.

    • Kyle

      I'm self employed and most self employed people don't really have hours per se, so I can easily be doing 8+ hours a day, 7 days a week. But eye strain has just never been a problem for me.

      I usually work an calibrated monitor in dim natural light and everything is fine (the right font and aliasing settings help a lot too). However when I have to visit suppliers I always hate their offices and 20 mins in the place makes my head hurt.

      There was this lab I used to have classes in; huge Victorian ceilings, fluorescent lighting, everything was white, not much furniture, echoey, and sometimes cold. It was a guaranteed headache every Thursday at 11am. But so many modern offices seem to be like this, especially the trendy open plan ones every IT company seems to move into these days.

      Just give me a small room with a southern facing window (including adjustable blinds) and I'll be happy.

  • AngryBaby

    Amazon sells Gunnar knock offs for $25 that actually work equally well. I believe the brand is Gamma Ray, and the nice thing is that they don't cost nearly as much, so you can try them out, see if you like them, and invest in a more expensive long term pair if needed. I had the same reaction to the Gamma Ray that Eli did to Gunnar, they just make looking at your screen *easier*.

  • xzeldax3

    They need to do a crossover promotion with Persona 4

  • Ingwersen

    Seriously, Eli: Someone mentioned F.lux - how does that stack against the Gunnars? Same but different? I use F.lux daily on both iPhone and PC, but have never tried (nor seen) gaming glasses. So a comparison however short would be much appreciated! :-)

    • logicpuppy

      I use both, and it's nice to have both. F.lux by itself is nice, but it still doesn't alleviate the strain. But, if you don't have eye strain already, F.lux is probably fine.

  • Plynx

    I never have computer eyestrain, but I use an RGBLED IPS display (calibrated to a 4000K). I wonder if these glasses are mostly to counteract the awful effects of either CCFL backlights, low frequency pulsed backlights, and the terrible viewing angles and binocularity of TN displays.

  • Nick Sacco

    I've been using Gunnars for almost two years now. I don't care about using them for gaming; it's all about reducing eye strain, preventing headaches. They are a must-have for work, staring in front of a screen for 8 hours straight. I now have had three pairs: one for home, one for work, and the original pair that just now fell apart on me. I always buy on Woot sales to get them cheaper.

    It seems silly as hell, but I'm a huge fan of 'em.

  • daniel schroeder

    Are these different from tinted glasses, or goggles that people wear while skiing/snowboarding? I think the big thing in Japan now is blue light glasses, or something along those lines. They are supposed to filter out harsh light from your monitor, but I also think they look like normal glasses.

  • timb

    If you wear RX lenses, get a Crizal coating on your lenses. I can't stress enough how awesome they are for outright removing glare! They also make your lenses hydro- and olio phobic, so you can simply rinse them off with tap water. No hand drying.

    • isana

      Crizal coating? Wondering if that's the same as what we have over here (we just call them multi-coated lenses); they look a bit more greenish and are very helpful for reducing glare. They're a bit more expensive though, and I tried skimping out on my current pair by not opting for them, and now I'm regretting it.

  • jbs2017

    i heard about these a lifetime ago.. nn yellow tinge.. yolo?