How Effective Are Gaming Glasses?
Gaming glasses, what are they and what do they even do? Are they a fashion trend or a real necessity? Can they really help reduce eye fatigue after extended gaming/computer sessions or are they just another marketing gimmick? Let’s take an in-depth look at gaming glasses and see if they really make a difference.
What are Gaming Glasses?
Gaming glasses are basically specialized eyeglasses designed for people, like gamers, who spend a lot of time in front of blue light screens. They are made increase contrast and reduce glare. Glare, of course, is a major cause of eye fatigue.
In most cases, the effectiveness of gaming glasses depends on their coatings. Whether we are talking about prescription or non-prescription lenses, the coatings remain the same – AR (anti-reflective) coatings and color tints. More on that later. For now, let’s focus on the main reason gaming glasses exist in the first place!
What’s the Problem?
Let’s start off with the main problem of extended gaming/working behind the computer screen. A nice little quote from Gunnar’s official website (more on Gunnar down below) perfectly sums up the problem:
“Naked eyes are not designed to stare at digital screens and artificial blue light.”
And it’s true – our society has become so used to the digital world, social media, video games, and digital working environments that we seem to have forgotten that our eyes aren’t the perfect fit for our digital habits.
The biggest threat to our eyes here is the dangerous blue light emission. Overexposure to blue light off screens has been linked to several critical issues. Not only does it disrupt melatonin (and sleeping patterns), but it also contributes to retinal damage and cataracts. Additionally, it has been shown to induce oxidative stress on the eyes alongside long-term conditions such as depression, insomnia, and neurotoxin buildup.
According to Harvard Medical School, there are several health issues resulting from blue light overexposure:
- Circadian rhythm interference that’s known to cause sleep disorder.
- Long-term exposure to blue light may contribute to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and even cancer.
- Reduces melatonin levels (sleep hormone) which are associated with cancer.
About now, you might be saying, “But my monitor has settings that allow me to reduce blue light emission.”
Yes, most newer monitors and TVs have added mechanisms for reducing the blue light emission. That’s a good start, but not the ideal solution, especially if your work heavily depends on impeccable color accuracy.
Another big issue is blinking. Yes – blinking, as funny as it may sound. Whether they’re playing a wicked single-player title or playing a highly competitive esports match, gamers don’t blink enough. It’s a fact!
Needless to say, not blinking enough puts even more strain on the eyes. Some people even claim the lack of blinking is a bigger issue than blue light exposure. This is also true (to an extent) for regular office work, especially on dual monitor setups where people quickly switch from one screen to another, forgetting to blink during the process.
Gaming Glasses | Why Are They Important?
If you’re suffering from headaches, dry eyes, or eye fatigue, you should definitely consider treating yourself to gaming glasses. Why are they important? Well, as mentioned earlier, they are an effective way of preventing serious contributors to eye damage. Thanks to their specialized anti-reflective and color tint coatings, they can filter light, putting less strain on your eyes and allowing you to have extended gaming sessions without worrying about eye fatigue or tiredness.
If, on the other hand, you aren’t experiencing any of the issues mentioned above, you’re probably fine. Not trying to discourage you from ordering gaming glasses, but if you aren’t experiencing any of those issues, you’re probably better off without them since your viewing habits, environmental conditions, and vision are obviously a-okay.
According to Science Daily, gaming glasses effectiveness is best known for these virtues:
- Improves sleep
- Avoids postpartum depression
- Prevents Seasonal Affective Disorder
How Do They Work?
As mentioned earlier, gaming glasses effectiveness heavily depends on the quality of the lenses as well as their coatings. Just like most regular models, gaming glasses feature two types of coatings – AR and color tints. Here’s how they work:
AR (Anti Reflective) Coatings
As their name suggests, AR coatings reduce glare from light sources such as TV screens and monitor displays. The quality of the coating is of crucial importance here. Cheaper coating formulas tend to catch smudges and dirt really easily, forcing you to clean them every few hours. High-end ones, on the other hand, don’t have such problems, allowing you to concentrate more on your gaming session.
That trademark yellow tint on Gunnar glasses isn’t there for aesthetical purposes. Nope! Yellow tint is present because it effectively increases the contrast while filtering out uncomfortable light spectrums. This helps your eye muscles relax and see the action more clearly.
Glasses for Gamers | Are They Expensive?
Many people think gaming glasses are overly expensive just because there’s gaming in the name, but that’s really not the case. I know, I know, quite surprising, isn’t it? Usually, when an item has the word gaming in its name, its price doubles.
Luckily, gaming glasses don’t fall into that category. They are usually priced between in the range of $20-$100, but there are high-end models with price tags approaching the $200-mark.
Most Notable Brands
The most notable brand of gaming glasses, the brand that kickstarted the whole niche – Gunnar Optiks. They have cemented themselves as the leaders in this industry, with other brands picking up mere fractions of the market.
The biggest reason is the fact they’ve been in the industry since its beginnings. Heck, they created the beginning. Plus, they feature prescription lenses and are covered by health insurance plans. With high-quality frames and lenses, several blue light protection factors, and excellent recognition on the esports scene, no other brand comes close to Gunnar Optiks.
Any Software Alternatives?
Believe it or not, several free programs automatically adjust your display’s color temperature according to the time of day. The most popular one is f.lux. F.lux has plenty of adjustable settings, such as earliest wake time and color temperature alterations, allowing night owls to fine tune the settings to their sleeping patterns.
For this reason, people refer to gaming glasses as f.lux without f.lux.
Pros and Cons
- Reduce blue light emission from screens
- Reduce eye strain and eye fatigue
- Improve image clarity and contrast
- Allow extended gaming/working sessions
- Some of the noted benefits aren’t backed by scientific research studies
- Their technology is often present with standard optometric lenses.
- Lesser known brands often feature cheap lenses that are easily smudged.
My Two Cents
The effectiveness of gaming glasses is a hot topic these days. Luckily, I’m here to tell you all about it! In fact, I got my new pair of glasses just a few weeks ago, and I have to say, I can already feel the difference.
I’m the type of guy who sits at his desk for 10+ hours a day. That’s my work routine and gaming combined. Until I got my new glasses, I’d often get headaches and sore eyes. Since my mother is often complaining about headaches, I thought it was just a matter of genetics. Honestly, I didn’t think that much of it until I read a few articles about the negative effects of blue light exposure and the lack of blinking.
I had been wearing the same prescription glasses for about four years. These new glasses weren’t marketed as gaming glasses, but they had both an anti-reflective coating and a slightly yellow(ish) tint. Not nearly as noticeable as Gunnar models, mind you. After a month of wearing gamer glasses, I haven’t had a single unbearable headache, which is a huge plus in my books.
Gaming Glasses Effectiveness | Wrapping Things Up
In the end, that extra layer of eye protection is an outright necessity for hardcore gamers, or basically anyone looking at a screen for more than 8 hours a day. Several handy programs are doing the same thing, plus they’re free, so they might be a good starting point if you’re not ready to shell out $50-$200 on brand new gaming glasses.
Even though their benefits don’t have concrete scientific backing yet, in practice, they’re considered a highly valuable defense mechanism against eye fatigue. So yes – gaming glasses indeed are effective for most people. Last but not least – they look freakin’ cool! If you ever wanted to look like Hunter S. Thompson while playing video games, Gunnar has you covered with their signature yellow-tinted lenses.
For people who don’t already have prescription glasses (people who have no eye protection at all), I warmly suggest opting for virtually any brand available in your country. Gunnar is a good choice for people who already use prescription glasses, but you could also ask your optometrist to coat your glasses with anti-reflective and color tint.
Once again, coming from my own experience, I have to say I noticed the difference almost immediately. I’ve been having wild headaches once or twice a week at least five years, perhaps more. Now, after roughly a month of using my new glasses, I’m a happy chap without a single rough day.
I know it sounds cliché, but if you’re having headaches and eye strain issues (accompanied by poor vision), treat yourself and see if gaming glasses are right for you. At least install f.lux. It is free, after all.
If, on the other hand, you are not experiencing any of these issues, chances are your visual ability, environmental conditions, and viewing habits are good enough on their own.
We gotta take good care of our eyes, lads – we only got two of ‘em!