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Review: Gunnar Optiks blue light blocking glasses

If you stare at screens all day, these are well worth the money.

gunnar optiks blue light blocking glasses
Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie
The Good
Transition-type lenses are great
Amber Max are the highest blue light blocking you can get
Comfortable to wear for long periods
Wide fit
The Bad
Frames feel a little flimsy
No nose bridge adjustments
9
Overall

We’ve long used Gunnar Optiks here at KnowTechie, as it was one of the first companies on the scene for blue-light-blocking glasses with a long history of supporting gamers.

Now, the company has two new lens types to add to their existing range, the Work Play which has transitions-type lenses, and the Amber Max which has their highest level of blue light blocking.

With a long pedigree like that, are the new lens types up to the challenge? We’ll find out, and also talk a bit about why you should be blocking that blue light, as well as wearing computer glasses even if your eyesight is 20/20.

Block that blue outta your life

gunnar optiks intercept

Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

Especially now that we’re (mostly) working from home, blue light blocking is more relevant than ever. A Neilsen report from 2018 said that we’re using screens for 11 hours a day on average, and that number is surely higher now.

That means digital eye strain, which is a problem. For a start, you don’t blink as often when you’re staring at a screen. That makes your eyes dry out more, leading to soreness and other issues. Blue light adds to those issues, as the wavelengths that make up blue have more energy and can damage the retina over time.

It also messes up with our circadian rhythm, which could mean sleep problems or even issues with memory retention. Eek.

gunnar optiks range of lenses

Image: Gunnar Optiks

Gunnar Optiks has built its company around protecting eyes from the potentially harmful effects of too much blue light. As part of those efforts, they’ve developed the Blue Light Protection Factor (BLPF) scale, which measures the percentage of the 450 nanometers wavelength on the blue light spectrum that is blocked by any means.

That makes it simple to figure out which set of lenses you want, for your use case. Want some protection but need color accuracy due to working in design work? Grab the Clear or Clear-Transitions lens, and protect your precious eyes. If your job doesn’t require color fidelity, you can ramp that BLPF number up higher, until you find a lens that works for you.

So, how are the Gunnar glasses?

Both pairs of glasses we’re looking at are using the same frame, the popular Intercept, in Onyx. Gunnar is one of the only computer glasses company that has wide fitting types, which is fantastic for my block-shaped forehead. The plastic frames are fine, they seem sturdy enough but as with any plastic, you’ll want to treat them a little more carefully than metal frames.

The only minor gripe I have is the lack of adjustable nose support. It’s not a problem for my oversized schnozz, but I could see it dropping the lens too far on some face types, which would put the center of the focal area in an awkward place.

Work Play transition lens:

gunnar optiks work play lens

Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

Finally, you can get Gunnars in a transition-type lens, the new Work Play lens type. These hover around 65 percent on the BLPF scale while indoors and darken to a 90 percent BLPF, essentially turning them into sunglasses.

They’re ideal if you don’t want to take your glasses off, ever. I mean, why have multiple sets for work and outside? Photochromatic lenses like these give you the best of both worlds, while still costing the same.

I like what Gunnar has done here, with the color-changing lenses really making a difference. I’m photosensitive and having them automatically change to sunglasses is a real lifesaver for my eyes, and for my easily triggered migraines.

Amber Max lens:

gunnar optiks amber max lens

Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

The Amber Max is Gunnar’s heavy-hitters for blue-light-blocking, tipping the scales at 98 percent on the BLPF scale. As you might expect from that level of light-blocking, the overall amount of light coming into your eyes is reduced, so you may find it worth turning the brightness up on your monitor.

The downside of that heavy tinting is that everything is that color, from office documents to games and everything in-between. I found my brain got used to that pretty quickly though, and it wasn’t an issue unless I was editing photos. Just… remember to turn on lights in rooms you walk into, as I kept forgetting and they really do stop your usual night sight from adjusting.

So, should I buy them?

Do you love your eyes? Of course, you do, I mean who doesn’t? It goes without saying that you should look after them, and Gunnar Optiks is a low-cost, high-performance way to do just that. I’ve found that I’m using the Amber Max lenses more than the Work Play, as the orange color cast is more pleasing to me when I’m outside.

That’s not to say the Work Play lenses are less capable, just that I prefer the tinting. Which one you buy is up to you, but you really should buy some and protect your eyes for all the years to come.

Editors’ Recommendations:

Just a heads up, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale. It’s one of the ways we keep the lights on here. Click here for more. Sample units were provided for the purpose of this review.

The Good
Transition-type lenses are great
Amber Max are the highest blue light blocking you can get
Comfortable to wear for long periods
Wide fit
The Bad
Frames feel a little flimsy
No nose bridge adjustments
9
Overall
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