Back in 2012 or so I came across some software that was meant to reduce eye strain when looking at a computer screen, f.lux. The makers of that software claimed that, by blocking blue light in sync with the setting of the sun, it would allow you to sleep better as viewing blue light disrupts the sleep cycle.
I tried it out and decided I liked the effect; I didn’t do a scientific study to determine whether my sleep habits were improved, but I did notice I found screens far more pleasant to view at night than without running f.lux. I ended up running it on any device I had that supported it, including my then-jailbroken iPhone.
A couple years ago I noticed a coworker wearing glasses with yellow lenses while working at his computer. I’d seen similar glasses online branded as “computer glasses.” The makers of the glasses made similar claims about the benefits of blocking blue light, though they added a claim about reducing eye strain. I didn’t end up buying any, however, as I was happy enough with running f.lux and not interested in them at their rather high price point.
Seeing them in person for the first time, I asked my coworker if I could try them on, and he obliged. The glasses were indeed similar to f.lux, though they also added a mild (+0.20) magnification, which I found quite pleasant.
As soon as I had to give them back I ordered my own. I bought GUNNAR Optiks brand glasses, the same as my coworker, though a different model (he had Phenom, I bought Intercept). I bought them through Amazon for $53.09. At the time of this writing the same glasses are $64.23.
I was satisfied with them right up until they developed a crack along the lens surround and I had to buy another pair. I treated them well but believe the white, partially translucent color (“Ghost”) I’d bought wasn’t very rugged. I ended up buying the same model again, but this time in solid black (“Onyx”).
I recently came across Felix Gray, which appeared to be a higher-quality version of frames than my GUNNAR Optiks frames, and with a more discerning lens that blocked only a small range of blue rather than all blue like the GUNNAR Optiks lenses. They also offer magnification as an option, though it is +0.25, slightly more than the GUNNAR Optiks +0.20 magnification.
Felix Gray glasses are $95, almost twice what I paid for my GUNNAR Optiks glasses. However, Felix Gray offer free shipping and returns, so I decided to give them a go.
GUNNAR vs. Felix Gray
The package that arrived was a small, generic cardboard box with two more, smaller generic cardboard boxes inside. Each of those boxes had a Felix Gray-branded box within. Each of those boxes had a Felix Gray carrying case inside which, finally, contained the glasses and an accompanying cleaning cloth. There was no packing slip or other packing material.
So far they were a much better buy than the GUNNAR Optiks glasses: they came with carrying cases rather than a carrying bag, as the GUNNAR Optiks glasses do. They also felt much nicer than the GUNNAR Optiks frames; they feel more like Warby Parker frames, which I really like (Warby Parker sunglasses also cost $95). Of the two models I bought, Nash and Jemison, Nash fit me best.
After wearing the Felix Gray lenses for a single day I had the first eye strain I’d experienced in longer than I can remember. I thought this was maybe a fluke, so I repeated the test for the rest of the week. I occasionally switched back to using the GUNNAR Optiks glasses, but perhaps because my eyes were already strained, the switch didn’t result in relief. It’s possible the magnification of the Felix Gray lenses is just more than my eyes are willing to accept, or perhaps something else about the lenses that leads to strain.
At the end of the week I declared the experiment a failure and opted to return the Felix Gray glasses. If I didn’t find the mild magnification of the GUNNAR Optiks lenses so pleasing I’d exchange the Felix Gray glasses for ones without magnification and see if those fared any better.
For now, I’ll keep my GUNNAR Optiks Intercept glasses.