Like most folks who work in front of a computer all day, I'm no stranger to eye strain. I've adjusted monitor settings, positioned light fixtures on my desk, moved back and forth in my chair and given myself breaks in an attempt to reduce the blitzed-out feeling and eventual headaches I get from staring at a panel of liquid crystal all day.
So when Gunnar Optiks said it had an answer, my ears perked up. The company's been making these glasses for some time, but until their Legend series, the glasses looked, well, a bit dorky. (Sorry, Jason Chen.)
But aviator sunglasses are an existing part of the wardrobe for this editor, so I gave them a go.
They indeed did help, at least for me. The yellow tint of the lenses -- which makes everything yellow, as you might expect -- takes the edge off the bright white background of most websites and text editors, which is the source of some of the eye fatigue problem.
How? I'm no optics expert, but in my view, the lenses approach eye strain the same way you yourself do when you change your wallpaper background to black or invert the color of text (black background, white text) -- it plays up what you want to see and plays down what you don't. In the case of writing this blog post, the words stand out better than without the Gunnar lenses, and the white background around them doesn't feel as oppressive.
It's a bit like turning on ClearType in Windows XP for the first time. Your eyes zero in on words more easily.
That said, these glasses won't increase your visual prowess or make you react faster, even if they're sponsored by Major League Gaming. Nor will they change the fact that your eyes are staring at a fixed distance for hours. (You really should get up and take a walk.)
But they do seem to help.
One note, however: some people may experience slight nausea when using these glasses. I felt just fine in them, but others told me the initial feeling of wearing them stirred their stomachs a little.
As for build quality, the lenses were nice enough, but the thin metal frame was just too flexible for my taste. I suppose the intention is to ensure that the frames don't pressure your head, but all it seemed to do was make the $99 glasses feel cheap and prone to bend or break.
Finally, you'll be sure to elicit comments from coworkers if you don a pair of these in your cube. It's not the yellow tint or even the shape -- it's the mere idea of wearing aviator glasses with a roof over your head.