Hardcore gamers are always looking for another way to get a leg-up on their competition. There are performance products for nearly everything imaginable, now including eyewear. Unfortunately, a lot of these products are only marketing hype and fail to produce the results that are promised. So, when I first opened the packaging of the Gunnar Optiks Phenom glasses, I was admittedly skeptical if I would notice any difference when wearing them. But, I am a firm believer in “don’t knock it till you try it”, so I was more than willing to test them extensively for a few weeks.
About Gunnar Optiks
Gunnar Optiks is the brain-child of Jennifer Michelson, who, after seeing her husband struggle with his vision during computer use, was concerned about her son following in the same footsteps. The company gets it’s name from her oldest son, Gunnar. It was co-founded with Joe Croft in 2005. Joe has worked for several companies doing product design and creation. Possibly his most relevant experience is the almost 10 years spent at Oakley.
Gunnar produces both indoor and outdoor “performance eyewear” glasses aimed at people who view computer screens often. The computer in this sense includes cell phones and other digital devices that seem to rule our lives now.
Gunnar Optiks has a large selection of different styles to meet everyones personal tastes. I was able to test the Phenom glasses from the Attache line. The lenses have their i-AMP technology which aims to ease eye strain and increase clarity. This technology is comprised of several other proprietary components: Neoscopic tuning, fRACTYL lens geometry, diAMIX lens material, i-FY lens coatings, and iONik lens tints. While these are mainly spunky marketing terms, the combination of the individual technologies does make a well-rounded product. From what I can tell, the Neoscopic tuning means the lenses have a slight magnification to them, much like reading glasses. The fRACTYL lens geometry is much like my Oakley ski goggles, providing a completely undistorted lens. The diAMIX lens material is a special plastic lens. The i-FY lens coatings are anti-glare, anti-reflective, scratch-resistant, and smudge-resistant. Last, but not least, the iONik lens tints are simply the lens colors which are available.
Wearing the Phenoms was a pleasure. They are very light weight and I barely noticed I had them on. I had no discomfort wearing these more than 8 hours a day, every day, during my testing. The nose piece is completely adjustable, too, adding to the comfort.
The build quality of the glasses is great. My favorite part of them is the spring hinges on the arms. These are a great feature that not only make it easier to put on and take off the glasses, but also keep the arms from being deformed while doing so. The metal frames are very strong and ding resistant. I made a mental note to myself to not be too careful when handling them and I haven’t noticed any visible wear on them yet. The lenses did not scratch during my normal use, too.
Overall, I thought the glasses performed very well. They definitely took some getting used to at first because there seems to be a slight magnification to the lenses. I had to sit slightly closer to my computer screen because of this. Normally, I like to sit a little farther than arms length away when I’m at my desktop, which is approximately 35 inches. When wearing the glasses, I found I had to sit around 25 inches away to view the screen correctly. This distance works perfectly for me when using my laptop.
Amber lenses are certainly not a new idea to help improve visual contrast. Marksmen have been using amber lenses for years. Personally though, I did not notice any contrast difference using the Gunnars. At the same time, the amber color did not hinder my game play at all.
The only issue I could not remedy was that the anti-reflective coating on the lenses did not work well enough. I tried several different lighting situations (natural sun light, incandescent bulbs, fluorescent bulbs), but in each I had a reflection of my eyes staring back at me, which is very hard to adjust to.
I definitely would not suggest that everyone run out and buy a pair of Gunnar glasses. I would, however, recommend them to people who are sitting in front of a computer screen for 8 hours or more every day. Gamers and professionals who use computers for a major part of their job may consider buying a pair of Gunnars, especially if they experience pain related to long hours spent staring at a computer screen. So, even though I had a few issues with them, I think the Gunnar eyewear did live up to the majority of their claims and worked well.