When it comes to blue light glasses, I'm a bit of skeptic. After all, the last couple of times I spent money on products that were insanely hyped but ultimately didn't deliver on their promise, I ended up with Anthem and Mass Effect: Andromeda.
While GUNNAR Optiks hasn't fully converted me into a believer with its 6-Siege Intercept Glasses, these frames have, at the very least, inspired me to think more about how my 40-hour-a-week gaming habit might impact my vision over the long haul.
GUNNAR, which partners with major gaming brands including Razer, Ubisoft and the Game Grumps, purports to make glasses for gamers that are engineered to prevent eye strain and issues associated with blue light.
The science regarding how blue light impacts a person's vision is inconclusive at best. At least one scientific opinion claims blue light isn’t necessarily worse for the eyes than any other kind of light.
But that doesn't mean we should assume it's totally safe. After all, no one considered the downsides of the Wiimote until people started accidentally started throwing them into TVs.
So, even as a skeptic, I adopted an open mind in reviewing this product. Ultimately, even though I'm still a skeptic, I believe many people will find them beneficial.
Why Blue Light Glasses?
Before getting into the meat of the review, it’s worthwhile to consider why a person might want gaming-specific blue light glasses in the first place. One big reason might be that the player already has problems with eye strain. They may find themselves experiencing symptoms like red eyes, dryness and blurred vision.
Or, if a person has a habit of playing games before bed, they might struggle to fall asleep after a late-night session. Light has an impact on a person’s circadian rhythm, and this is true whether the light is blue light, sunlight or anything else. But as these effects specifically pertain to blue light, dulling the visual impact of an electronic screen may be one way to put the gamer's mind at ease and help them sleep better.
Finally, the person may be a hardcore gamer concerned about long-term eye health (*raises hand*). After all, it's not exactly easy to pwn noobs if a person can't even see them.
Whether it's blue light, infrared light or some other kind of light, anyone who looks at any light for eleven hours a day, every day of the week, is bound to experience some negative effects. If you work an office job and have a smartphone, this is statistically about the amount of time you spend looking at digital screens, according to GUNNAR.
The GUNNAR Optiks 6-Siege Intercept purports to address these issues.
The Gunnar Glasses 6-Siege Intercept
GUNNAR claims its patented lenses protect against blue light, therefore meaning wearers are less prone to headaches, blurriness and eye strain that are a result of marathon gaming sessions. In spite of the creators’ efforts, there’s no hard evidence that blue light protection lenses actually do much to prevent these effects. But there’s also no hard evidence that they don’t help, and given the numerous testimonials from people who swear by them, they’re certainly worth an investigation.
I’m very sensitive to light. I’ve invested in blackout curtains and even with a sleep mask on, I need a room to be completely dark to fall asleep at night. I wake up at the slightest hint of light in a room. I also frequently find it hard to fall asleep directly after gaming.
As I typically wear glasses, I wore the GUNNAR Optiks 6-Siege Intercept with my contacts. I immediately noticed that, upon putting the glasses on and looking at the screen, my depth perception felt slightly different.
They straddle between cool and gimmicky, not unlike high-end gaming chairs and other third-party accessories designed to enhance your gaming experience and branded accordingly. Style-wise, perhaps they fit in with the "gamer kid" aesthetic (I'll "OK, Boomer" myself here before you have the chance). For someone who wears merchandise from 100 Thieves or rocks a mean Cloud9 holiday sweater, these glasses would complete the look.
Even thoght GUNNAR branded this particular style as 6-Siege Intercept, it’s my understanding that they’re not specifically designed only for compatibility with Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege. That name merely reflects the glasses style. So, since I haven't kept up with Rainbow Six Siege, I played Apex Legends while wearing them. With 1,075 hours in that game, I need all the visual protection I can get.
The experience was interesting in that they seemed to shift the focal point of my game. Much of the background "visual clutter," meaning elements like grass and landscapes, became less visibly pronounced. This contrast allowed me to turn my full attention to my aim and my movement.
Unfortunately, in Apex Legends, certain lava areas are the same orange hue as the circle. During at least one point, this caused some confusion as it looked like my teammate was headed into the storm when they were actually near a lava area.
Other than that, there was no real difference in my gameplay. However, as someone who frequently feels very wired after hours and hours of sweaty pub games, the blue light did make the experience a little “cooler,” for lack of a more precise term. After wearing these glasses, I experienced much less of a headrush than what typically follows a long gaming session.
There’s no guarantee players who purchase these won’t get headaches after long gaming sessions. But that’s typical, as eye strain is only a piece of it — things as varied as dehydration, tiredness or even the rollercoaster of emotions that come with intense gameplay can all contribute to what gamers might label as "eye strain." All this to say, if you don’t need blue light glasses, there’s no reason to purchase them.
But if you think they might help you, they're worth the investment. The glasses won’t make someone a better gamer. But, they might help some of the dry eye issues or sleep problems that result from hardcore gameplay.
Anyone interested in investing in blue light glasses should be prepared to do their homework and make their own decisions. One of the best ways to figure out whether they might help is to test them out. GUNNAR Optiks offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee on its non-prescription products. And for that, it’s worth giving them a shot.
GUNNAR Optiks provided a sample of the 6-Siege Intercept gaming glasses to TheGamer for this review. You can see all of GUNNAR's available frames on GUNNAR's website.