Gunnar Optiks Intercept Colors computer eyewear review

If you use the computer for hours each day, Gunnars can make it easier on your eyes

If you watched any of the videos I posted from Macworld|iWorld 2014 or even a recent iMore Show video podcast (all available on our YouTube channel), you might have noticed a peculiar set of eyewear on me. I was testing Gunnar Optiks' new Intercept Colors, glasses especially designed for computer users.

I've known about Gunnars for a few years. The company has risen to prominence partly because of its profile with computer gamers. But the reason they've become popular with a segment of gamers is equally applicable to anyone who uses the computer for long periods: Gunnars are engineered to keep your eyes relaxed in front of the computer, to keep them from drying out, and to enable them to work less hard to focus.

One of the things that makes Gunnars stand out is the amber tint of their standard lens. The amber color filters out blue light. If you work in an environment with harsh florescent lights, popping Gunnars on can really help. I'm not making this up - I have florescent ceiling lights in my office, and wearing Gunnars helps cut down my frequency of tension headaches. (They've also convinced me to get rid of the lights I have in favor of something a bit more full-spectrum, but not everyone has that ability.)

The same principle can be applied to your monitor. Many of us tend to leave our computer displays uncalibrated and manufacturers have a tendency to ship displays calibrated to 6500 degrees Kelvin (what's known in the industry as D65). That tends to have a bluish cast. Gunnar's amber lenses help your eyes compensate for that blue, to reduce fatigue.

If you've ever used f.lux to adjust the color of your computer's display, the principle is the same. It's just that Gunnars are f.lux for your eyes instead of for your computer display.

If you find the amber tint really annoying, Gunnar Optiks makes three different lens colors, including clear, which they recommend for creative professional who obviously need their ability to see colors unimpeded. They're also coated with an antireflective layer to help cut down glare.

Gunnar also claims the shape of their lenses help to keep "drying air currents" away from your eyes, which reduces irritation and therefore leads to less eye fatigue. In fairness, many eyeglasses help to keep your eyes moist. But, as someone who wears reading glasses, I will say in fairness that Gunnars do a better job than my other specs.

On that note - Gunnar Optiks offers its eyewear with prescription lenses. Visit their web site for more details.

The particular frames I've worn for the past month are called Intercept Colors. They come in five different designer colors as well as black. I have to tell you that I've never gotten so many compliments on my eyewear in my life. Whether they're being sarcastic is another thing, but people notice them, that's for sure.

Gunnar makes a lot of different frames. So if the oversized hipster frame look in cobalt blue isn't your thing, check out their site for other ideas.

Usually we try to balance our reviews with pros and cons, but my Intercepts Colors are one of those rare products where I'd really have to be reaching to say anything negative about. So I won't.

Pros

  • The optical tech behind these glasses work
  • Available in a variety of designer styles
  • Available with prescription lenses

The bottom line

Did these gaming glasses improve my gaming ability? No, but I kinda suck to begin with. What they did improve was how I felt using my computer for long periods. My eyes didn't hurt as much and my head didn't hurt as much. And hearing people say nice things about my glasses helped my ego, too.

Peter Cohen

Managing Editor of iMore, Mac and gaming specialist and all-around technologist. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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There are 16 comments. Add yours.

Gazoobee says:

Sorry, but there is simply no science behind this at all. Computer monitors actually *don't* "make your eyes tired" anymore than reading paper books or going out on a bright sunny day. A lot of people believe that they do, but there is no actual science or evidence that they do. Also, a slightly tinted lens to change the white point (apparently the "technology" being used here), is not going to do anything anyway.

The shape of the glasses also isn't going to do any more than any other pair of glasses in terms of eyeball drying from "wind." This is just physically impossible. My office is not windy at all and I generally don't compute outside that much, so the whole "issue" is kind of ridiculous in any case.

Finally, there is no (credible) evidence whatsoever that fluorescents cause tension headaches, and all the studies that claim they do, base their idea on the fact that fluorescents flicker on and off really rapidly. The glasses cannot do anything for that either.

They don't look that bad, and if it seems to help you out I would stick with them, but you have to know that it's an entirely psychological thing that they seem to be doing anything.

d ha says:

Trying to explain the physiology of the eye to you would be like trying to explain to a 2 year old where snow comes from.

Genius ever heard of the medial rectus. Or superior rectus. Cilliary muscles? And when I say Rectus I don't mean the thing you sit on and your head is up right now.

Probably not.

It is official, AMERICAN society is dumb.

Knowing that people like you are out there, makes me cringe.

Come to think of it the 2 year old would understand.

stephen007 says:

Your logic that American society is dumb for not knowing or understanding terms from a specific field of medical study is utterly preposterous.

Roshizzle731 says:

The part that makes it come off as dumb may be the fact that he wrote four paragraphs trying to discredit something he has no clue about. I myself suffer from eye strain and use these types of glasses and they help out a lot. All adults should know assumptions and guesses won't get you far.

d ha says:

Well BOND, perhaps if you took a LITTLE interest in learning about your body and understanding why it is, and does what it does, well, then perhaps you would be overweight.

Throwing terms around is not to impress or make my vocab big, but to give INSIGHT that there are muscle in the eye that work, work often and hard. And light strain is real, and just like working out, there is pain in the eye due to over stressing eye muscle...

there was that better for you?

Irelandjnr says:

I hate to break it to you, but reading a paper book on a sunny day is far easier on the eyes than looking at a computer monitor.

Joseph Huckaby says:

I've tried two different models of Gunnars (RPG Gunmetal Amber and PPK Snow Amber), and found the same issue with both: They are NOT 1:1 magnification. They are, in fact, READING GLASSES in disguise. The lens magnification can easily be seen by lifting the glasses on and off your eyes. It is incredibly annoying to me because I do not need reading glasses, and so the glasses make me dizzy and nauseous. I contacted Gunnar about the issue and they avoided it, saying that it was "as designed". There is NOTHING on their website about lens magnification. I truly believe that people who claim these things actually work for them are (1) experiencing a psychosomatic effect, and/or (2) actually require reading glasses to a certain extent, so the Gunnars actually help them by correcting their bad eye sight. I strongly recommend against buying these -- they are a scam. If you are having headaches looking at screens, go see an eye doctor. A real one.

GlennRuss says:

I believe it is more in the chair you are using. Good computer chairs have railings. If you sit in a four hour chair for six to eight hours, you will be fatigued. It really pays to buy a decent chair.

Sent from the iMore App

Simon Sage says:

Been using some Gunnars for about three years now. I find it reduces eye strain when reading text, but ruins colors, so they gotta come off for any gaming or Photoshop work. Also, they aren't a particularly great fashion statement.

d ha says:

I think when the came out originally they were for gaming. Call of Duty was marketing them.
Great for those gamers who play for hours.

However the colors do throw PS out the door.

Simon Sage says:

Yeah, I never found them particularly useful gaming. Might give them another go now that I'm playing Payday 2 again.

Lt_Solorna says:

They are better looking on a person than Glare Reduction Lunettes.

zavandiver says:

As with any health-related product, you should check with your eye care professional before using these. If you have an uncorrected refractive error such as a slight astigmatism, these glasses will not help that. A proper prescription may make all the difference.
The Gunnars are basically over-the-counter reading glasses with a fancy tint.

Iocane Powder says:

As someone that stares at a computer screen 12 hours a day I would caution against using any type of cheaters for extended periods. I recently thought I had a tumor or alien implant behind my dominate eye as over the course of few days it started staring at things independent of the rest of me. I had been wearing cheaters regularly (1.5x) for a few of months. After dropping the cheaters for a couple of weeks, following the 20/20/20 rule and trying some eye exercises, my eyesight has returned to its normal, not perfect but functional level. A recent visit to the doc informed me that I have 20/20 vision in the distance, but that my eyes are getting old up close. I still use my cheaters but only for a minute or two to verify details, then off and back to a slightly fuzzy screen. Headaches have decreased and the stabbing pains, I think from my eyes drying out, have gone away.

Overall I think the 20/20/20 rule and various exercises are helping more than anything. The Dr gave me some OTC drops to use 4x per day so that may be helping with the dry eye.

rjholmes123 says:

What?

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Sharif Jameel says:

I've been using Gunnar glasses for about 3 years. I work in IT for the US Army and spend 10-12 hours/day in front of a computer screen. I'm also a chronic migraine sufferer and as many of us, I've kept logs of how often I get migraines for years. There was a noticeable decrease in the number of migraine headaches I experienced after I started wearing them. For people who say they're fake and it's a placebo effect, the fact is that anything that reduces my migraines is worth the money I really honestly don't care how they work or if it's placebo. A few less migraines/month is priceless to me. I wrote a detailed blog about my experience with these glasses here: http://www.cgscomputer.com/tech-blog/2014/6/17/gunnar-computer-eyewear-r...