It should be clear by now that blue light from screens and devices is harmful. It messes with our circadian rhythm, impacting the ability to sleep. It causes eye strain and dry eyes, which directly lead to headaches. And as consumption of screen-based media grows exponentially, we’re discovering new impacts of blue light regularly. I’ve always stood by GUNNAR glasses and the immediately noticeable effects the patented blue-light blocking glasses have when I wear them. Headaches disappear. My sleep improves, and I just feel less like I’m being assaulted by the screens that dominate my life.
The standard GUNNAR amber lens is designed to block out 65% of blue light, which is pretty significant. They have a slight yellow hue, so there is a small amount of color grading when you wear normal GUNNAR amber lens glasses, but I’ve found that they don’t have a drastic impact and I can “normalize” fairly quickly after putting them on. If you don’t want any tint at all, GUNNAR does offer the Liquet lens, which is clear but deflects 35%of blue light. On the other end of the spectrum, GUNNAR recently introduced the Amber Max, blocking out an unprecedented 98% of blue light.
Landing somewhere between full on sunglasses and computer eyewear, the Amber Max lenses are heavily tinted. Unfortunately we don’t yet have technology that allows us to block out extreme amounts of blue light with a clear lens. If you want that massive 98% blockage, you’ll have to deal with a sepia-toned world. After first putting them on, they had that usual GUNNAR effect of immediately feeling like a relief on my eyes. Looking at the blank white screen of potential that I deal with daily as a writer was somehow more calming and reassuring, and less of an all out assault.
Over the last couple of weeks, the GUNNAR Amber Max lenses paired with the popular Intercept frames have become a daily driver for me during the workday. As if I needed any excuse to sit in front of the computer for even longer, the additional reduction of eyestrain and headaches has been well worth it. Since hammering out black letters onto a white screen doesn’t require much color distinction, I’m fine hammering out those same black letters onto an orange screen.
Great for Computer Work, Not so Good for Gaming
Once I’ve moved past my work day and get into the evening, I want to shift over to gaming, and this is where the Amber Max lenses start to present some problems. The extreme color grading that blocks the blue light has a pretty significant impact on games, and now I can sympathize with people dealing with some form of colorblindness. Because of the warm grade, details of warmer colors and whites can get washed together and cooler colors become muddied. It also ends up making things pretty dark, so those dark scenes that are already hard to see end up even more difficult to make out. Imagine trying to play all of your games with a sepia filter laid over the top of them.
The impact is mostly felt in games that require quick thinking, movements, and high hand-eye coordination. Trying to quickly separate an enemy from the background to land a clean headshot becomes a difficult task. Trying to quickly assess edges and environmental objects in a platformer is harder than it should be. For relatively slower and more relaxed games, the Amber Max lenses didn’t impact gameplay directly, but the sepia color grading still means you’re not seeing the visuals as intended by the developer. I also don’t really like using these lenses in a dark environment. It’s like wearing sunglasses inside.
For me, the GUNNAR Amber Max Intercept glasses work out great, because I can use them during my work day for tasks where color clarity doesn’t matter. The duration of my workday gets that nice 98% blue light protection, and then I move to using a pair of the traditional Amber lens frames that I have for gaming in the evenings and on weekends. Depending on your need and ability to get multiple pairs of GUNNAR glasses, the Amber Max lenses fall into a specialty category that won’t apply to everyone. As a power user looking at screens for 90% of my waking hours, having the option to block as much blue light as possible is great, but I wouldn’t recommend them for general use unless you don’t mind a sepia-toned world and a significant handicap in your gaming.
Right now, the Amber Max lenses are only available with the Intercept frames, so if you’re going for maximum protection from blue light, you don’t really have a lot of options to work with. As an added option, they provide a great supplement to GUNNAR’s other lenses. As a primary solution for blue light protection and eye strain, however, GUNNAR Amber Max lenses have too many caveats. If you need something for general computer work during the day, you can’t get better, but you’ll want to stay away from Amber Max when it comes to gaming.
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