In the words of Coldplay, “It was all yellow”.
Play videogames in a well lit room. Make sure you take a break every 15 minutes. Don’t hit yourself in the eye with a Wiimote. This is all good advice but, with the possible exception of the last, it is advice that most gamers probably ignore. I know I do.
Playing videogames in a well lit room sounds like a great idea, but energy-saving light bulbs seem to have cast a dimness on the possibility of anywhere being “well lit”, and who hasn’t got sucked into a heavy gaming session and only realised after several hours that it has got dark outside? Which brings me to the second piece of advice – taking regular breaks. Of course I take regular breaks, usually to run over to my computer, check my smartphones or watch something on TV. All things considered, I probably spend more than 12 hours a day staring at a screen in one form or another.
And it is the eyes that suffer in the glare of screens, or the constant twilight of the British weather and energy-saving light bulbs. I am surprised that my eyeballs haven’t melted yet. Headaches, dry eyes, tired eyes, stinging/watering eyes, these are all things that many gamers, and computer users in general, either suffer with or will suffer with in the near future.
Now, you may have heard of Gunnar Optiks and their very cool range of eyewear designed to prevent exactly this sort of eyestrain that we are all prone to. The good news is that they have finally brought the range to the UK, and GGUK have had a chance to take a pair of the RPG style eyewear for a test run. These glasses are not exactly cheap, but can they actually prevent the sort of discomfort that comes from extended gaming sessions, and are they a worthwhile investment?
Let’s throw out some impressive words before I give my experiences. I will admit to not really understanding what all of this means, but I am sure that some of you readers will. The Gunnar Advanced Gaming Eyewear feature i-AMP lens technology, with diAMIX lens material, i-FI leans coating, fRACTYL lens geometry and iONik lens tints. It all sounds very impressive, and in reality it actually is.
The lenses are made from a material that is allegedly clearer than glass and tougher than polycarbonate, which makes for a very clear image through lenses that will last more than five minutes. This durability is enhanced with a lens coating that not only protects, but also reduces glare and reflections. Probably the most stand out feature of these glasses are the amber tints to the lenses. Not only does this leave the glasses looking cool, but it also filters out fluorescent light and balances the spectrum to improve detail, contrast and clarity.
Gunnar eyewear is lightweight, designed to be put on and forgotten about, while also being durable. The shape, and the way that the glasses wrap around the face, limits the air currents around the eyes and forces the gamer to blink more often, preventing irritation from the eyes drying out. There is also a slight magnification to prevent eyestrain and enhance detail.
So, on paper the Gunnar Advanced Gaming Eyewear look very impressive. Can they really measure up to all of those long words?
I have been using a pair for the last couple of weeks. There are a range of different styles available, and personally I chose the RPG style simply because they are slightly larger and fit more comfortably on my freakishly large head. Due to the amount of time I spend in front of a screen, they have been on my face pretty much constantly and it is a compliment to their design that they can be worn for such extended periods without any discomfort. Their construction is solid and light, and the nose pads are adjustable, so they can easily be worn for hours on end without any problems.
Putting them on for the first time was actually really impressive. Suddenly, everything was brighter and more focused. But this is actually where opinions have differed. For me, everything just seemed better, yet others who tried the glasses out declared that they just gave everything on the screen a yellow tint. I suppose it makes sense, due to the tint of the lenses, but personally I didn’t even notice this. It was just brighter. Could this be because my eyes were already so messed up by many years being stuck in front of a screen until the early hours? Who knows…
But despite the yellow haze, everyone agreed that the glasses made things on the screen clearer. And it was not only apparent when simple working on my computer, even using my smartphones with their much smaller screens became easier. When it comes to gaming, the differences were noticeable there as well. I cannot comment on whether or not they will improve your game as I am not that competitive to start with, but they certainly improved the contrast and prevented at least some of the tiredness that my eyes experience.
So everyone should rush out and buy a pair then? Well, I don’t think I would go that far. Besides the amber tint which simply does not appeal to everyone, the lenses do tend to get dirty incredibly quickly. Dust, fingerprints, smudges from unidentified sources, all show up quite obviously on the glasses, forcing the player to constantly clean them. Having to keep taking them off to clean leaves they eyes adjusting between wearing them and not, which diminishes any benefit as the eyes end up working harder.
The biggest barrier to everyone buying a pair is the price. The Gunnar eyewear has only recently come to the UK and prices start at just shy of £70, going up with the different choices of frames. That is a lot of money to splash out on something which simply may not suit you. Try before you buy would be my recommendation, if that is possible where you are.
As far as good looking eyewear goes, the Gunnars are impressive. They really do look good. And the massive amount of hype that surrounds these glasses is almost justified. Contrast is improved, eye tiredness is reduced and headaches can be avoided. It is still advisable to take regular breaks and play in a fairly well lit environment, but Gunnar Eyewear undoubtedly makes a difference. They are an investment in the health of your eyes, but the price will prove to be a bitter pill to swallow.
Gunnar Advanced Gaming Eyewear are highly recommended and worth investing in if you spend hours in front of a screen each day, take your eye health seriously and can come up with the steep asking price. They can currently be picked up in the UK from Scan.co.uk, limexb360.co.uk and cclonline.com.