UNBOXED: Reviewing the Gunnar Optiks Intercept Onyx Glasses
For all of the coverage I’ve done of the consumer tech industry, and more specifically the gaming segment, I’ve only just recently been introduced to a category of accessories that I never in a million years would’ve associated with computer games. The gaming eyewear market is probably one of the newest tech accessories to start cropping up, but the importance of eyewear really cannot be understated.
The idea of filtering out harmful light emitted by computer screens first was introduced to me—and probably most consumers—with the launch of Night Shift mode for the iPhone, which came as part of an iOS update back in 2016. The setting dulled the screen, removing the bright blue light and having a deeper yellowish tint to it. The idea behind this was that the brighter, bluer screen would confuse the brain at night because it mimics the brightness of the sun; and when you’re trying to go to bed that bright light prevents the brain from releasing melatonin—the hormone that gives your body the sleepiness cues.
It turns out, though, that those same brighter blue lights can be pretty harmful for your eyes, no matter when or where you’re viewing them. So, imagine then, the type of damage someone who stares at a computer screen all day is doing to their eyes on a pretty consistent basis (says the person who’s typing this review on his MacBook with the brightness setting turned all the way up). And then you realize just how important this gaming eyewear space truly is.
Which brings us to Gunnar Optiks. The company’s product, which was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank back in February and received a $750,000 offer from QVC’s Lori Greiner, is designed to protect the wearer from those harmful blue lights and eliminate digital eye strain. Boasting a 65 Blue Light Protection Factor (which I assume is similar to sunscreen numbers, so this must be pretty good, right?), Gunnar’s glasses come in a variety of styles, including sunglass, fancier computer styles, and of course gaming styles. The wearer has the option of also getting prescription style, so you can really knock out two birds with one stone by protecting your eyes and improving your vision at the same time.
The particular pair that I got to try out was the Gunnar Intercept Onyx. The frames are pretty basic looking, not unlike any normal pair of sunglasses I’d be comfortable wearing. They’re incredibly lightweight, but not so lightweight that they feel like dollar store sunglasses.
The biggest difference between these and a normal pair of sunglasses, though, is the noticeably different lenses that the Gunnar Intercept glasses have. There’s a slight yellow tint to the specs that gives away the fact that these are not sunglasses, but they’re also not regular glasses. The feeling as you’re wearing them and looking through the lenses is that you’re entire world has been flipped into Night Shift mode. It’s a sort of relaxing kind of feeling. And, more to the point of what these things are intended for, they actually do seem to remove the strain on your eyes when you wear them for long stretches.
Personally, I found them kind of fun to wear. Coming to the office in the morning and putting my Intercepts on, I feel like I’m Rick Vaughn coming in for the save.
Granted, I know everyone that walks by my desk is giving me odd looks like, ‘Why’s this guy wearing sunglasses indoors…
The nice thing about Gunnar is that they have seemingly dozens of different styles and options so the consumer can find exactly the right look and feel that would suit them best—including some Gaming glasses that were made in collaboration with Razer, one of the biggest names in computer gaming. Glasses come in four different widths (medium, narrow, wide, and youth), there are three different nose bridge options (a-fit, adjustable, and standard), and there are a handful of different shapes to choose from as well. Prices range from $49 up to $189 without at sort of special prescription lens cost factored in.
Because of the dimmed color of the lenses, you may get some looks like I did, but they didn’t really bother me. Plus, you know you’re doing your eyes a favor, so that makes it more worth it in the end.
For the professional gamer, the idea behind the Gunnar glasses makes absolute perfect sense. When you stare at these screens for a living, you’re bound to experience some strain on your eyes. The only drawback of the Gunnar brand is the yellowish hue of the lenses. If, for some reason, true color is of the utmost importance to a gamer, they may be turned off by these glasses—even if it is an ever-so-slight difference. But, for most gamers, and even for those average consumers who stare at screens for the majority of their day, Gunnar glasses are an easy pitch if they care about their optical health.