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Gunnar Optiks Emissary – Review

When one of our readers asked that we review a pair of Gunnar Optiks revolutionary computer glasses, my first question was “What are computer glasses?” Once I had researched a bit, I was slightly taken aback at the idea that I, with my 20/20 vision, would ever need a pair of these “computer glasses” that supposedly reduce eye strain, and even make the images on my computer screen better, brighter, and clearer.

This is a little crazy, I thought. There is no way a pair of non-prescription glasses are going to make that kind of difference, I scoffed.

 

Gunnar Optiks Emissary: Easing Eye Strain You Didn’t Know You Had

Fortunately for me, I was wrong. Regardless of how great your eyesight is, or how well you think you see, everyone who sits in front of a screen for hours on end will experience eye strain at some level or another. In fact, as a person who sits in front of a computer for a living and games heavily as a hobby, I feel as though I am the perfect example of someone who was experiencing eye strain and really had no idea.

To put the Gunnars to the test, I decided to start early and wear them all day while at work, and then wear them again while gaming at home later in the evening. When I first received the review model, I was worried about wearing some hideous gamer glasses all day, in front of my co-workers. When I took them out of the box, I was pleasantly surprised that they looked a lot like regular eye glasses. In fact, they were quite attractive. With a sleek, sexy frame design, the only tell tale feature are the yellow tinted lenses.

When I first put the glasses on, I could immediately tell a difference in the way my computer screen looked. The glare was gone immediately and everything on-screen looked crisper and clearer than normal. But why?  I pulled out the leaflet that came with the eye wear and got a little more familiar with the science behind them. While they do have a prescription program, the model I reviewed was of the non-prescription nature. The yellow-tinted lenses, however, are actually quite spectacular. Here is why they work:

  • FRACTYL lens geometry solves the problem of a low screen usage blink rate by trapping humidity close to the eye and protecting it from air currents that could potential try the eye out.
  • DIAMIX lens material doesn’t force the wearer to choose between durability and clarity. This special material is as optically pure as it is strong and degradation resistant.
  • IONIK tints help filter out excessive high-energy visible light, making the overall result warmer and easier to look at for an extended period of time. This aids in visual recovery and helps eliminate any “after image effects” that users may experience.
  • I-FI lens coatings take care of any reflections and glare from both sides of the lens, effectively reducing

Gunnar Opticks even has a helpful video that breaks down the science behind their lenses:

 But, Do They Really Work?

While the Gunnar Optiks Emissary model definitely made things look better on my computer screen, I kept wondering how I was supposed to know if they were really working. By the time I got home, still wearing the Gunnars, I realized that I did not have the normal, dull, behind-the eye headache that I usually have by the end of a work day. While I generally credit this headache to what I thought was a need for glasses,  I am now re-thinking that assumption. I can’t say that Gunnar Optiks can cure your ailments, but I can say that eye strain-induced headaches may become a thing of the past.  I continued wearing the glasses throughout several hours of gaming on both PC and console. By the end of my day, I still had yet to experience the usual ‘tired eye’ feeling. It was refreshing to have avoided the late afternoon eye-strain headache and I will be more than pleased to wear them again if it means protecting my eyes and, subsequently, eliminating my need for Tylenol.

As for professionals who swear by Gunnars, the list is not short by any means. Professional gamers and eSports athletes everywhere are singing the praises of Gunnar Optiks and their game changing (pun totally intended) eye wear. Jordan Gilbert, who you may also know as “nOthing”, plays Counter-Strike professionally and has, on more than one occasion, been vocal about his love for Gunnar Optiks:

In game, GUNNARS have multiple positive effects. The improved contrast makes it easier to spot the silhouette of enemies in dark spots, especially at distances. It also help’s when I’m trying to see someone through a smoke grenade, normally I would have to squint very hard to attempt to spot movement, but with GUNNARS my eyes have a noticeably easier time focusing in on micro movements.

Jordan isn’t the only pro gamer who has fallen for Gunnars. Geoff Robinson, also known as iNcontroL, who plays StarCraft 2 for pro-team Evil Geniuses has also discovered the benefits of using Gunnars during matches, as well as casually:

If you’re serious about your game, Gunnar’s are worth the investment. Both the short term advantages, like increased contrast for better spotting things on the screen, and the long term advantages, like reduced eye strain, make it an easy choice.

The Bottom Line

I have to admit I was skeptical at first. Despite all of the hoopla over Gunnar Optiks in the gaming community, I really thought that there was no way that eye wear could make such a huge difference with PC work and play. After using the Gunnar Optiks Emissary model glasses for about 18 hours straight, I freely admit that my assumptions were way off base. In fact, I am pretty ecstatic to have pinpointed the source of my annoying end-of-work-day headaches. Even if you don’t experience any immediately evident effects of staring at a screen all day, the fact still remains that it’s bad for your eye health overall, eventually resulting in Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). I would recommend Gunnar Optiks eye wear to anyone who sits in front of a screen for more than a few minutes each day. It is highly likely that these glasses will alleviate symptoms that you didn’t even know you had.

Synthesizing the Sense of Synesthesia

Many of us take our vision and perception of the world for granted on a daily basis. We assume that everyone is privy to the same sights and sounds and interpretations of sense in the same manner. This is just not true. While GUNNAR Optiks generally enhance the visual experience, especially in a digital landscape, there is so much more to the sense of sight that even we cannot begin to dream of covering it all with amber tinted lenses.

Take Synesthesia for example. This neurological condition is not well defined, as only recently research has begun to re-address this interesting sensory and cognitive jigsaw puzzle. One of the most common forms of Synesthesia is that of grapheme. This is where the synesthetes (a person with Synesthesia) perceives letters and numbers as randomly colored. There are also other caveats of the condition that cause distance to be applied to different subsets of numbers and letters, or other spatial misalignment that simply doesn’t exist. There are also those that hear sounds in relation to visual motion. These are involuntary and uncontrolled reactions to reality and perception. There is no cure, but then it seems that perhaps an alternate view of perceptive reality might be preferred over actual reality sometimes. The designers of the game Child of Eden felt the same way.

Child of Eden, published by Ubisoft, by designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi is a game that claims to engage sound, vision and touch in a seamless manner. You can check out the trailer for the game here, and see for yourself the imagery that is presented. It is a little over the top, it does take place in the future and within a computer network I believe. Based on the colors and interaction, this is probably game where you’d want to switch from classic Amber tint GUNNARs to Crystalline, just to get the feel of the true color. A lot of it is on dark backgrounds, so I wouldn’t worry too much about eye strain. Tetsuya Mizuguchi is the pioneer in these types of games, having been responsible for Rez an early version of Child of Eden.

This article in Psychology Today discusses Rez, Child of Eden as well as a board game that also seeks to emulate Synesthesia. Yet what the article lacks is a reason why one would want to smell the music (though smelling is a sense that video games cannot emulate – yet). While Synesthesia is interesting, and provides a few advantages in the visual sense, it is still a condition which causes disorienting and false perceptions of the world around you. So basically, Tetsuya Mizuguchi wants to show you what it would be like if you were on LSD — something that also causes you to smell colors and disassociate senses.

Though we are always looking for different ways to perceive the world. With GUNNAR glasses, you can at least perceive the world without worrying about fatigue headaches and computer vision syndrome, but you can’t see numbers as colors. While the games mentioned above do offer some insight into the world of people with this condition, they don’t really emulate it. Rather, they only use our perception of color, shapes and sound. A person with Synesthesia would have a totally different experience, and the games most likely don’t emulate what they are experiencing as there are so many variables to each person’s particular instance of Synesthesia. There hasn’t been enough research to date to be able to pinpoint exact conditional variables to properly emulate it for those of us with “normal” perception. Hence the LSD reference, which actually makes more sense. Rather than experiencing true Synesthesia, our perceptions are merely tested with a layman level of synthetic Synesthesia.

In the end we’ll truly never know what it is like to have Synesthesia and deal with altered perceptions on a daily basis. You can rest assured though, that GUNNAR Optiks is here to help with the visual perceptions in your daily life that we consider normal, whether they are or not. And if you have Synesthesia, you might want to consider a pair, if not just to make the color of those numbers a bit sharper.

Image: Ubisoft

GUNNAR Supports Healthy Vision Month

 

May is Healthy Vision Month. If you are reading this, then you should be curious about healthy vision month. The reason for this is simple: you have eyes and you use them every day, all day and you are most likely reading this on a digital device screen. The reason this is important is that many people forget that not only is the eye surrounded by muscles, but it has its own rate of degeneration. However, like the National Eye Institute, GUNNAR Optiks is here to help.

Digital eye strain is not just an ergonomic issue. With your eyes continuously refocusing and repositioning themselves, not only does this affect the muscles but can lead to fatigue, dryness, irritation, and other vision problems. As this report from the Vision Council explains, digital eye strain is the most common computer-related repetitive strain injury, even more so than carpal tunnel and tendonitis.  We’re quick to slap on a wrist brace, so why aren’t we as quick to do something to protect our eyes?

According to the National Eye Institute, most people “often do not pay attention to their vision unless they notice a problem.” Part of it is sociological, part of it is just a lack of general education about the issue. Our eyes are responsible for delivering visual inputs to our brains – as if this isn’t obvious. Protecting them and ensuring that they are functioning without strain should be our first concern if we are staring at digital devices all day long. The Vision Council report mentioned above goes on to outline all the issues that can be caused by poor eye ergonomics including back and neck problems, headaches and blurred vision. All this can contribute to eventual vision problems in the non-digital areas of your life.

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So what can you do to prevent future eye problems and relieve current eye strain and stress?

The first step is to get an eye exam. This will quickly determine your overall eye health and if you need corrective lenses or not. Before you buy a pair of GUNNAR glasses, you’ll want to know if you need them in prescription or not. Most eye exams and prescription glasses (including GUNNARS) are covered in part by HSA/FSA benefits. Sure, there is a stigma attached to getting glasses but would you rather adhere to some vague social stereotype or see the world perfectly?

For many of us, our world is a constant series of monitors, backlit displays, tablets and mobile phones. From when we wake in the morning to when we turn off the light for the night. How many hours per day, per week do you spend in front of a digital screen? All this time, absorbing harsh light that our eyes haven’t properly adapted to defend against, can be a serious strain on the eyes. Even with corrective lenses, everyone using digital devices should consider the ergonomics of doing so.

Ergonomics isn’t just about making sure you are sitting up straight. In many corporate environments, ergonomics is a serious issue. Many employers (maybe even yours) goes to great lengths to not only educate their employees about proper ergonomics, but they may also provide you with the equipment you need to have the most ergonomic workstation. This can range from a proper chair, to wrist rests to a new pair of GUNNAR glasses.

Healthy Vision Month is a month to take stock of what your vision means to you and what you would do to protect it. From getting an eye exam, to setting yourself up at work in a visually ergonomic workstation and so on, visual health is just as important to your daily life as everything else you worry about. The difference is, finding a healthy resolve for your eyes might be as easy as a new pair of GUNNAR Optiks.

Then and Now: Vision in the Active Digital Life

Then and Now: Vision in the Active Digital Life

There was a time when many of our daily activities required just as many different devices or environments. This time is commonly referred to as “back in the day” by most people, especially Generation X. That generation has been present through the shift from the analog world to the digital one. We’ve changed the way we behave and have fun, yet we haven’t completely changed the way we interact with our digital environment.

Take sporting equipment. As the power and skill of athletes have increased, sports equipment has advanced to protect us and give us an advantage. From shoes that form to the feet to provide a better running surface to golf clubs that correct imperfections in the swing to avoid injury, we are protected. Yet, when it comes to digital – computer based – activities, many haven’t adopted the same outlook on protecting themselves. Do we not think that staring at a computer for extended periods of time hurts us just as much as running a 5k in bad shoes would?

We have changed the way we do certain things, but haven’t changed the way we protect ourselves – specifically our eyes. Sure, this is Gunnar Optiks and we’re all about protecting your eyes, but there still seems to be some doubt that our eyes are as fragile as we think they are. We still perceive the eight hour work-day, or the four hour gaming session as the only time we would need Gunnars. That is just not true. Consider these six activities, how we used to and how we now do.

Listening to Music

Back in the day (there’s that phrase again) we would fire up the record player, or the tape deck. We would listen to music while doing other activities, from cleaning to working and so on. With the advent of the Walkman, we took our music with us everywhere we went. That hasn’t changed with Mp3 players. What has changed is the way we organize our music. Instead of making mix tapes (I used to record songs off the radio) we now sit in front of the computer, purchasing or torrenting music. This is an everyday activity for most people, staring at the bright glare of iTunes or Amazon Cloud Player. Music isn’t just an auditory activity anymore, it’s visual as well.

Watching a Movie

On the surface, it might appear as if nothing has changed in the practice of watching movies. We still are sitting in front of a screen, watching Ryan Reynolds argue with Jason Bateman while urinating in a fountain and so on. Yet, something significant has changed – distance. There are recommended viewing distances for television screens, based on the size of the screen. These distances are based on several factors, viewability and eye strain being two of them. Yet, when we watch movies on computers monitors, as we tend to do more often, the distance is significantly decreased.

This decreased distance, in both watching movies and playing video games, is not doing our eyes any favors. When we sit on our couch watching movies or gaming from the appropriate distance, your eyes are more relaxed and you are able to focus easier. Yet, we think nothing different when we watch or game with a monitor mere inches from our faces. Think about this difference, and how it affects your vision.

Reading the News

Who doesn’t remember sitting at the kitchen table in the morning, sipping coffee and reading the paper? You know, the paper, that rolled piece of black and white printed material that was out in the driveway in a bag every morning. Well, perhaps you remember your parents reading the paper, or your grandparents. Either way, there was no glare from the newspaper. There was no eye strain, except for that really small type on the political cartoons.

Now, we all use our digital devices for the news. From our phones while we’re on the bus, or our computers at work – we’re staring at screens more and more. Tack on the 24 hour news cycle, and we’re constantly reading the news. Then tack on live video on your phone, such as for the NFL, and we’re getting more information than ever before from a glowing screen close to our faces.

Interacting with People

Well, unless you are having someone dictate this article to you, this is a good example of how we interact with people. Not only do we get our news and information online but we have more and more conversations online. Watch your children, they aren’t hanging out after school, sitting on the back of your car and chatting. They are staring into their phones or other devices. Hell, we all are. We’re glaring at our iPads, our iPad Mini’s and so on. Yet again, we take no mind to what that glare is doing to our vision, confused by the headaches and eye strain.

While those of us old enough to remember a day when we had to rotary dial our friends to hang out behind the 7-11, kids are now glued to their devices. There are no long term studies showing any effects of this type of eye strain. Genetically, we will of course adapt over time (perhaps a few million years), as this kind of behavior becomes the standard. Until then though, it can only benefit your eye health using proper protection.

Making Music

By now, you have got to be seeing a trend in how we interact with the creative world. From graphic design to doing homework and so on, we’re using computer screens. Music, has become one of those things that requires numerous on screen programs and editing software. It’s not all done with just plugging in and cutting the tape. Not to mention the slate of musicians that use computers to compose pretty much everything and anything. We’re using our eyes just as much as our ears to make music.

Playing Sports

I think you get the trend here. We’re spending much more of our lives in the digital realm, replacing activities that used to take place either outside or in more social environments. While kids still play organized sports, with video games we tend to play just as much sports on a screen. This is yet another example of how we are stressing our eyes further than we ever have before. There is a huge difference between using your eyes to hit a ball being thrown to you, and hitting a button to hit a ball being thrown to you virtually.

The way we use vision in the digital world speaks to the future of technology and the advances that have been made in how we interact with every aspect of the world. Advances have been made in how we use our eyes to view, yet we seem to not realize there is a paradigm shift in vision. Gunnars saw the world changing and created something to help you adapt to living life in the digital world. Or, if you prefer, you can wait until the next shift in our evolutionary process.

Ergonomics Will Keep You Gaming into the Future

by Curtis Silver

Ergonomics. Over the years the term hasn’t changed the meaning, it means the same today that it did in the 1950s when it was fully accepted as a term and practice. However, it was not until the 2000’s that colleges began to offer it as a course of study towards a masters degree, though its history dates back to ancient Greece. Ergonomics, of course, is the study of designing equipment that fits the human body in physical and cognitive connotations. Where once ergonomics was simply thought to be just keyboard trays and wrist rests, like everything else in the past few decades, it has evolved significantly.

Now ergonomics has become a course study in not only psychology but physiology & behavioral sciences as well. It has become an area of medical concern, a workers compensation standard and something most employers take seriously and are generally willing to pay for if you can demonstrate a need (yes, you can convince your boss to buy you a pair of Gunnars for work.) Ergonomics has become more than just physical comfort in the office but has branched out into many other industries. Though it is in the office environment that we think of ergonomics the most, and while innovations are being made there, they are also being made in gaming ergonomics as well, with a bit of crossover.

Take for instance the concept of the mouse glove. For years this has been an idea of the scientific & engineering community. Probably after seeing Tom Cruise move screens around in Minority Report. Actually, that was the motivation for students at MIT back in 2010 who developed a wireless mouse glove that cost under $100 to produce. There is even earlier research at North Carolina State University’s college of engineering in which students devised a glove that controlled computer operations with sensors in the fingertips. Now there is a company called Bellco that is marketing a wireless air mouse glove to the community at large.

So would a wireless mouse glove actually alleviate wrist pain? Common wrist and hand problems range from carpal tunnel to tendonitis due to keeping the hand and wrist at odd angles during the day. A mouse glove would not require you to keep your hand on the desk, you could basically be in a relaxed position all day long. So why isn’t something like this catching on? I’m guessing that it has to do with control. Our movements are human, and when there is exact work to be done on computers (such as graphic design) more precise movements are needed, which when the hand is steadied on a desk or wrist rest is possible. A floating hand relies on too many other active muscles to keep steady. Think about the difference between using a tripod for a camera and not using one.

Keeping with hand ergonomics but moving over to gaming there is the Avenger Xbox 360 Adapter by N-Control. Not billed as an ergonomic device, rather a fully customizable one, the Avenger is about as ergonomic as you can get with a console gaming controller. It snaps on to the Xbox 360 controller and you can move the buttons & triggers around to fit not only your hand but your gaming style as well. Something to think about for those with itchy trigger fingers, you can also adjust the response time. For someone like me who has broken every finger at some point in life and some don’t work as they should, this is a fantastic device. Often I get hand cramps when gaming (as many gamers do) and being able to adjust the controller to an ergonomically sound position based on the layout & comfort of my hand is pretty sweet.

The thing is, gamers are one group that might not think about ergonomics mostly because of their age range. A lot of gamers are young, in their teens or college-aged and haven’t yet experienced the ongoing pain associated with mistreated joints & tendons. Gamers put themselves in a position to get anything from back & shoulder pain to neck pain to eye strain. Though here at Gunnar, the solution to eye strain is pretty clear. If there is one ergonomic item that has changed my life for the better, it’s my MLG Phantoms. But even solving eye strain with a sweet pair of Gunnars isn’t going to clear up severe neck issues from sitting at a bad angle and not having proper back support.

Thankfully, there are plenty of awesome gaming chairs in the market. My favorite has to be this one, the PCE Ultimate Gaming Station & Work Space. All you would need to do is install a Mountain Dew fountain and you’d be good to go. The point is, like many gaming chairs, it sets the body at an angle that doesn’t put undue pressure on the joints and tendons. So basically, you can game longer. Also, for those gamers that prefer some more “human” games every once in a while, there is this.

Of course, what would any market segment be without the totally off the wall stuff? Take for instance the Adapta Mouse. Designer Ryo Yoshimi has created a functional and ergonomically sound (I suppose) mouse that looks like a centerpiece at a very neo-classical wine bar. Then there is the DataHand, a throwback from 1990 that use a radial menu to select letters, basically replacing your movement across the keyboard with a finger twitch. Obviously, while very smart ergonomics, it didn’t catch on. Another great design that was flawed as far as marketing is the Combimouse.Come to think of it, the name might have been a bit flawed as well. The keyboard split in two to adapt to a more natural hand resting position, and the mouse was also incorporated into the keyboard and split in two. Probably would take a bit of getting used to.

When we sit down at our desks, or in front of our gaming console we don’t always consider the damage we could be doing to our bodies by not simply sitting in an ergonomically sound position. As you can see, there are plenty of great products on the market to assist with that so that we can keep gaming for years to come without having to take a baggie full of meds every morning. Ergonomics has become more than just a gel thing on your desk you end up destroying with paper-clips, it has become something we all need to think about as we go through our day to day lives. The long term effects of things such as tendon damage and eye strain are something we need to take seriously now.

For some great ergonomic supplies, after you get yourself a pair of Gunnars, check out ergopro.com.