We have glasses of every kind to protect our eyes—sunglasses, ski goggles and swimming goggles. But do we have any protection while playing video games?

According to GUNNAR Optiks at PAX, sitting in front of a television for five or six hours straight will put a strain on the eyes. The eyes were designed to focus on things further away than a monitor or television set, yet many Americans spend more time looking at these than anything else. Most jobs require a significant amount of time staring at a computer screen. Then after work we come home and sit in front of another screen for entertainment, watching shows or playing video games.

GUNNAR Optiks found that the long-term viewing of digital information causes what they call "Digital Eye Fatigue" (DEF). They define DEF as blurred vision, eyestrain, dry eyes, light sensitivity or headaches. GUNNAR claims their performance eyewear will increase contrast, optical resolution and detail.

Like many people, most of my job requires sitting in front of a keyboard and monitor, so I decided to try the glasses they designed for computer monitors. My experience after wearing them off and on for a couple weeks was mixed. I have never worn corrective eyewear and rarely bother with sunglasses. This made the experience of wearing glasses all day particularly odd. When I first looked through them, I could very quickly see that they affected my vision. If I put them on and took them off the computer screen looked very visibly different. I noticed right away how they shift the color spectrum.

When I put the glasses on, the screen was definitely easier to look at—though it leads to my major complaint with the glasses. When I had them on it was fine looking at the screen but doing everything else was requiring me to take them off. GUNNAR claims that you should be able to multitask and do other things with the glasses on, but I found that it messed with my vision if I walked away from my desk. This may turn out to be more or less important for each person.

I do believe the glasses should help with dry eyes. The research GUNNAR used in designing the glasses showed that people looking at monitors tend to blink less. The glasses wrap around the user’s head, which should keep moisture present and trapped behind the glasses. I’ve personally never had a problem with dry eyes before but I did notice that my eyes would blink more rapidly for a short time because of the moisture.

My eyes did feel less strained at the end of the day, and I think that helped me throughout the week. On the other hand, when I took them off my eyes had trouble adjusting to everything else temporarily. I would recommend the performance glasses if your eyes are tired or feel dry at the end of the day. For me, they had about the same effect as taking a break from the screen to get a drink of water or to talk to co-workers.

GUNNAR Optiks digital eyewear retails between $79- $189. For more information, check out http://www.gunnars.com/gunnar_corporateinfo.php.

About The Author

Bradley Ouellette is a Blast staff writer who's been with us since the bitter beginnings when we were an attic and basement operation on Mission Hill.

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