Gunnar was one of the first big names in blue light-reducing glasses for computer users and gamers, and it’s still going strong. Since we tested the Phenoms in 2014, the company has introduced a number of new designs and tint options, and here we’re checking out the Haus computer glasses featuring prescription Crystalline tinted lenses. At $ 99 on their own and $ 189 with prescription lenses, they’re well-made and comfortable glasses that can indeed reduce the harshness of the screens you look at all day. If you find yourself straining after long days of staring at screens, they’re definitely worth checking out.
Frame and Lens Options
Gunnar glasses are available in a variety of frames and lenses, including prescription options. Frame designs are loosely divided into categories like “computer” and “gaming” glasses, but they’re distinctions in name only, with many frame designs shared between them. Gunnar offers about two dozen different frames using various materials including acetate, steel, and aluminum-magnesium alloy. Whether you want round or rectangular lenses in thin or thick frames, Gunnar probably has a design that will appeal to you.
Blue light-filtering lens technology is the company’s claim to fame, and Gunnar offers several different lens tint options for most frames. Liquet lenses are the lightest tint, blocking out 10 percent of blue light. Crystalline is a noticeable tint but quite functional indoors, and blocks out 35 percent of blue light. Amber is the darkest blue light-specific tint and blocks out 65 percent. All tint options block out 100 percent of ultraviolet light.
Amber is the most common lens tint, available with the widest range of frames. It’s a noticeable tint, but is light enough to wear indoors while still blocking out a significant amount of blue light. Liquet and Crystalline tints are significantly lighter, with Liquet designed to keep colors as accurate as possible and Crystalline providing a therapeutic amount of blue light reduction without the significant tint of Amber. Gunnar also offers 90-percent gray-tinted sunglass lenses, if you want sunglasses rather than indoor computer and gaming glasses. Finally, if you want the functionality of both computer glasses and sunglasses in the same pair, Work-Play lenses transition between Amber and Sunglass tints over 45 seconds when exposed to sunlight.
Prescription lenses are also available, at a significant premium. Regardless of frame, Gunnar glasses with standard prescription lenses are available for $ 189.99. Standard prescription lenses are manufactured with conventional, analog methods and are accurate to within 1/8th of a diopter. Gunnar Premium prescription glasses are $ 229.99, and are manufactured with a digital CNC that is accurate to within 1/100th of a diopter. Progressive lenses are also available for $ 269.99, and are made with the same technology as Gunnar Premium lenses. Finally, prescription sunglasses are the most limited but affordable option at $ 149.99 a pair (standard prescription lenses, with no option for Gunnar Premium). These are the retail prices for prescription glasses, and Gunnar accepts FSA payments and is covered by several vision plans.
Build Quality and Feel
Gunnar sent me two pairs of glasses with my nearsighted prescription: a pair of Haus glasses with Crystalline lenses and a pair of Intercept sunglasses. The Haus frames are made of black acetate (a tortoiseshell version is also available) and feature spring hinges that add flexibility to the design, with gunmetal temples that feature the Gunnar logo. They feel very light and comfortable, balancing on my nose and ears with no pinching, pressure, or irritation.
The Intercept frames are made of black injection polymer, with thicker arms and springless barrel hinges. The polymer material feels more flexible than the acetate of the Haus frames, which helps make up for the lack of spring hinges. The Intercept frames are also matte black rather than semi-glossy like the Haus. They feature wider lenses than the Haus glasses (58mm to 53mm), but only weigh two grams more (33g to 31g). The result is another light, comfortable fit.
The Haus and Intercept glasses arrived with an accurate prescription that corrects my nearsightedness, letting me comfortably view my TV from the couch, read signs from across the street, and drive. Of course, the big draw of Gunnar glasses is the blue light-blocking effect, so let’s focus on the Crystalline lenses.
Blue Light Blocking
The Crystalline lens tint is noticeable but not jarring. It doesn’t particularly darken anything you look at, so your various monitor, TV, and phone screens don’t appear dimmed by any measure, just slightly warmed from the by the cooler light of the devices. It also means you can navigate easily outside at night, or indoors in dim light, without needing to take off the glasses.
I tend to get light-sensitive headaches, which are exacerbated by cool whites as shown by most LCDs, and by fluorescent overhead lights. With the Crystalline lenses on, that cool light takes on a more natural, slightly orange-pink tint. It doesn’t significantly skew colors, so blues still look blue and not purple, and yellows still look yellow and not orange. The tint is definitely present, though, which is why the lighter Liquet lenses are recommended for graphics professionals who need to work very accurately with colors. Most importantly, my eyes do feel less strained and headaches aren’t as bad.
Gunnar lenses are designed to counteract eye strain caused by most LCDs like phones and monitors on their default color balance settings, because they tend to appear cooler than ideal. This is important to note, because if you use a cinema-accurate or calibrated picture mode with warm white balance on your TV, or use any blue light-reducing software on your computer or smartphone, Gunnars will compound the effect.
When I put my TV in Movie mode with white balance set to the warmest setting, the slight tint of the Crystalline lenses push the color balance a bit past the ideal, producing a more noticeable pink-orange tint on the picture. Similarly, with my phone switched to Night Light mode, the already heavy warm filter Android applies looks very skewed with the glasses. Gunnars are very effective with default picture settings on most devices, but if you make tweaks to produce more accurate colors on the screens themselves, the glasses become less necessary. Of course, you can’t really tweak the white balance of fluorescent lights, so the glasses can still be useful if you remember to change your settings back and let the lenses do the soothing work instead of a program or software mode.
The anti-scratch coating on the lenses has proven to be effective with my admittedly rough, toss-in-a-pocket treatment of the glasses over a few weeks. I haven’t notice any scuffs or scratches, and smudges wipe crystal clear with a lens wipe. The anti-reflective coating is also fairly effective, though some glare from windows or lights can still come through around the edges of the lenses. With very bright light sources, I occasionally see the reflection of my own eyes if the glasses shift forward, requiring me to push them back up on the bridge of my nose.
Gunnar continues to offer high-quality glasses that comfortably reduce blue light exposure and can soothe eye strain. The Haus glasses with prescription Crystalline lenses we tried are comfortable and solidly built, with reasonable prices comparable with similar glasses you can order from your optometrist. If you work in front of screens most of the day, or hate the lighting in your office, Gunnar’s various glasses are worth considering, and its sunglasses are equally nice.