Image courtesy Gunnar Optiks

Gunnar Optiks Phenom Performance Eyewear

Add Your Comments

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.

At first glance, the Phenoms make me think "stylish performance"

At first glance, the Phenoms make me think "stylish performance"

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.

The lenses have several proprietary technolgies to increase visual acuity

The lenses have several proprietary technolgies to increase visual acuity

Attache Phenom

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.

The lenses still reflect a good amount

Thin, strong, light metal frames

Comfort

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.

Build Quality

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.

Performance

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.

Very thin, very light metal frames

You can see a large amount of light reflected from the back of the lenses onto the desk

Final Thoughts

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.

splat

More Images

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discussion
  1. What I don't understand is the justification for the claims that they ease eye strain etc from computer use. According to you the glare reduction is mostly ineffective, and the only other optical effect you describe is having to sit closer to the screen, which -- I find, anyway -- increases eye fatigue.
    so if there is a slight magnification and are designed to be worn when your staring at a screen for hours on end without any reduction in glare, that means when you finally take them off your eyes will strain anyway and will eventually do the same amount of damage as not wearing them at all. I can find better ways to ruin my eyesight for $100

    From what I can tell, the tuning means the lenses have a slight magnification to them, much like reading glasses. The is much like my Oakley ski goggles, providing a completely undistorted lens. The is a special plastic lens. The are anti-glare, anti-reflective, scratch-resistant, and smudge-resistant. Last, but not least, the are simply the lens colors which are available.

    My edits in bold and red/cyan above.
    So basically, most of the features are solely to compensate for the fact that you're wearing lenses. The remaining two are the only real changes above and beyond wearing no lenses at all.
    The magnification seems dubious to me -- if you really wanted objects on the screen to look larger, you'd get a larger screen or use software magnification. (or possibly tweak the DPI) And as mentioned earlier, I could only see it leading to increased eye strain.
    So the only feature that might offer a benefit beyond wearing nothing at all is the tint, and I'd love to see some real scientific, peer-reviewed evidence on that. (Really, I would. Links would be appreciated.) And if it's to increase contrast, then why not just increase contrast in the video card settings?
    So, if the tint doesn't help, then aside from the magnification, everything else is just a feature to make sure the lenses are lightweight (diAMIX), don't introduce distortion (fRACTYL), last awhile (i-FY anti-scratch), and don't introduce eye strain in and of themselves (additional i-FY coatings). i.e., these features are just to compensate for the fact you're wearing lenses. I have a difficult time believing these things would be of any benefit to somebody who doesn't need to wear glasses in the first place (in which case you'd do much better get tinted prescription glasses, which necessarily have high quality and come with all manner of fancy coatings).
    *edit*
    Bah, , and . I can't win!
    */edit*