June 30, 2012, 7:45 AM — If you spend eight or more hours each day staring at a bright computer monitor in a windowless cube lit by fluorescent tubes, eventually your eyes will beg for mercy. Mine did, so I tried a pair of Gunnar glasses, billed as "technology eyewear."
These glasses, most notable for the yellow tint of their curved lenses, are supposed to reduce the eye fatigue that can plague anyone who spends large parts of their day glued to a computer screen. In my case, they seemed to work pretty well: I felt that I could see my screens better, I wasn't squinting as much, and my eyes didn't feel as tired at the end of the day.
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Compared to prescription glasses, whose frames alone can easily cost $300, Gunnars cost relatively little: the company's least-expensive pair of computer glasses is $79, and its most expensive pair is $189. (For an extra charge, you can arrange to have the glasses made with your prescription.)
Gunnar says that its glasses help computer users in several ways. The yellowish tint, for instance, softens the high-intensity energy that monitors and fluorescent lights emit, making the environment seem warmer and less harsh. I noticed and appreciated that effect when I wore the glasses. One drawback of the tint is that it affects how you see colors. For people whose jobs depend on distinguishing indigo from violet, Gunnar makes lenses with a Crystalline tint that the company says doesn't interfere with color perception.
The curved shape of the Gunnar's lenses serves two purposes. First, according to the company, the lenses focus specifically on the distance at which most people view their computer screens. Second, the curve help trap humidity near the eye--useful because most offices have chronically dry air that tends to dehydrate occupants' eyes.
Text on my screen definitely looked sharper when I had the Gunnars on. Whether my eyes were more humid at the end of the workday, I can't say.
Because Gunnar Glasses are optimized for viewing a computer screen, they're not so good for other uses, such as looking across the room or even talking to a coworker sitting across the desk from you. As a result, you'll likely take the glasses off and put them on many times a day. Or if you wear other prescription glasses, you may have to switch glasses many times a day, which can be more hassle than it's worth.