There are a number of problems related to staring at a screen for too long, and none of them are great. In fact, the Vision Council, a non-profit trade association conducted a survey with something like 70% of those surveyed admitting to eye problems from "digital strain" of some kind, be it dry, red, fatigued eyes, headaches, back pain, neck pain or blurred vision. None of that is going to help you take down a boss or dodge a digital bullet.
Personally, I am at my computer for about eight hours a day for work and usually a few more gaming or browsing the internet after that. Even when I exercise I look at a TV screen (because exercising is boring) and often I will shut my eyes (usually accompanied by a deep sigh) and feel them burning from lack of moisture. This could not go on. I reached out to the folks at Gunnar, who sent me a pair of their newest specs, called Valve. I popped em on for a week to see what all the fuss was about. After wearing them for a little over a week, the time for a review is nigh!
First off, these glasses are pretty slick looking. I don't wear glasses (except aviator-style sunglasses in the summer) and I don't think I look particularly good in most pairs that I wear. These actually look pretty good on me, which was a surprise. I look a bit like a substitute teacher (although I used to do that for work, so maybe that's an unfair description). They still look more like glasses you would wear on a shooting range instead of out and about, and the yellow lenses look a little silly in public, but I wasn't mortified wearing them in my local coffee shop while I worked.
I have a big head, so I worried that the Valve's would hug my face too hard, but the fit is quite comfortable. They are snug but not overly so, and even when I jerked backwards in horror while playing Darkwoods, they stayed firmly in place. I was able to wear them for hours at a time without the usual fidgeting and readjusting that I usually do when I'm wearing sunglasses. Also, I have luxuriously long eye-lashes. As in, I've had girls get legitimately pissed at me for how long and thick they are. The problem with these lustrous lashes is that they brush against the inside lenses of most sunglasses and with a little moisture on them, my glasses resemble a dirty windshield pretty quickly. I didn't have that problem with the Gunnar glasses, which was a relief. With the lenses sticking out a bit, I expected big gaps in the sides of my vision. Not so! The lenses are contoured in such a way that after a few seconds, I didn't really notice the gaps in the corners, which would have been distracting.
These seem pretty well constructed and even though they are lightweight, they don't feel cheap. I don't know how scratch resistant the lenses are, since I kept them in the enclosed cloth bag while I wasn't using them, but apparently they have "silicone hard coated lenses" to prevent them from scratching. One of the arms clicks when I try to put it down and it's a little tough to fold, but the other arm folds down just fine, so I am assuming that it's an adjustment issue, not a defect with the frames themselves.
Do They Work?
The first day it was a little strange to have glasses on my face while working. I was very aware of them and despite their lightweight and mostly comfortable fit, they bothered me a bit, especially on the tops of my ears. By the second day, I barely noticed them at all. I would take them off to use the bathroom or go eat and sometimes forget to immediately put them back on, but they weren't a source of irritation like they were on day one. After three days, a strange thing happened; I began to notice when they weren't on.
One feature that I didn't initially notice is that the lenses provide a slight magnification. It's a subtle but effective feature, but that's not why I found myself looking around for the glasses after a couple minutes of returning to my computer. The only way I can describe my compulsion to use them was that when I didn't have them on, everything seemed a little harsh. The whiteness of the screen, the brightness...whatever it was, when I slipped the glasses back on, there was almost a sigh of relief from my eyes. Everything is just a little more...soft. Not in a bad way, it's like turning down a harsh light a little bit. These bad boys are supposed to block eye-straining blue light and I am assuming that's what's responsible for the softening effect I am getting. I also seem to blink a bit more while wearing these, since I have less of those "shut your eyes and wait for the burn to fade" moments, but that might just be because I am still occasionally aware that I am wearing the glasses, so I'm blinking more subconsciously. The yellow tint to the shades, which I thought would bother me, is actually nice after a little while. It brightens things up a little in a pleasant way.