I have to admit, I never believed GUNNAR Optiks’ bombastic press releases; sprinkled with rules of capitalization-eschewing technical terms – i-AMP lens technology, iONik lens tint, i-FI lens coating, fRACTYL lens geometry and diAMIX lens material – it seemed they were using way, way too many words to describe a simple pair of glasses. But I also have to admit, I never tried them. So when GUNNAR recently partnered with Razer to release two styles – RPG and Cerberus – sporting the game gear manufacturer’s signature black-and-green colors, I jumped at the chance to finally prove my doubts were well-founded. After a week of work and play in the RPG Designed by Razer, the only thing I’ve proven is that you can’t judge a pair of glasses based solely on their marketing materials’ spelling.
“Designed by Razer” is actually a collaboration program introduced a year ago by the Singaporean manufacturer, who was looking to indirectly enter the profitable PC case business by outsourcing its designs and designers to third party manufacturers. But Razer’s contribution is is actually more of a restyle than redesign. The Razer RPG frames are essentially the same as the RPG frames, but with Razer’s signature green glow now adorning the inside of both arms, along with their “For gamers. By gamers” slogan on the inside of the right arm. Their reptillian triskelion logo also brands the box and the soft, black drawstring case included within.
Of course, a fresh coat of paint can’t save a crumbling building. Thankfully, GUNNAR has given them a solid frame – pun intended – on which to paint. Their anime-inspired RPG frames were already among GUNNAR’s most stylish, and that small splash of neon only further enhances their sleek, stylized look. In addition to looking good, they’re also well made; the construction is surprisingly solid, much better than what I expected – having been a glasses-wearer for 25+ years – for a pair of $100 frames. The magnesium-aluminum material keeps them relatively lightweight. And the adjustable rubber nosepads and twin spring hinges, housed in an open dual rail design, keep them relatively comfortable. Even with a headset on, they didn’t dig into my scalp; the tapered arms and multitude of hinges let them comfortably conform to the shape of your head. I actually forgot I was wearing them after a couple of hours.
But the real question is, “do they work?” GUNNAR claims their patented lens technology can give even the most demanding user a noticeable visual advantage over extended periods of time, reducing eye strain and the effects of dry eye while increasing sharpness and contrast. For all my skepticism, there’s real science behind GUNNAR’s iAMP lenses. The amber tint, which took a few days to get used to, is designed to increase contrast and filter out the harsher spectrum – high-energy visible blue light – of digital devices. This, combined with an anti-glare coating, reduces the strain on your eyes, letting the ocular muscles relax. For the past three months I’ve been suffering from headaches that have surprisingly kept to a tight 9-to-5 schedule, only striking during the work week. After three days in these glasses, the headaches were gone.
After a grueling day of staring at a computer, as long as I was staring through the Razer RPGs, my eyes no longer felt like they were going to pop out of my head; that tired, achy feeling wasn’t just reduced, it was eliminated entirely. The claim that they could reduce the effect of dry eyes, however, didn’t pan out. According to GUNNAR’s website, the tightly wrapped design limits air currents near the eyes, creating an “ocular microclimate” that increases humidity. Though my eyes were less tired by the end of the day, they were no less dry. Of course, the fact that I was wearing contacts, which tend to worsen my dry eye symptoms, couldn’t have helped. GUNNAR also offers prescription lenses, which I would be curious to try some day, but even their non-prescription gaming glasses seem to offer a slight amount of magnification.
From left: Razer RPG and Razer Cerberus
If you don’t suffer from eye fatigue or eye strain induced headaches, there’s no real reason to buy a pair of Gunnars. No matter how cool they look or how slick their marketing, the slight contrast boost alone doesn’t justify the steep price. But if you notice your eyes getting tired from looking at a computer or television screen, these are an absolute godsend; with their variety of styles, quality of materials, and now endorsement by Razer – one of the most well known brands in gaming – there’s no better time to pick up a pair of Gunnars.