If you are anything like us, you probably spend the vast majority of your waking hours glued to a computer monitor, television, or smart phone. As the hours go by, your eyes can and will become stressed, exhibiting anything from excessive dryness to eye fatigue to even pounding headaches. As the official tester for Onslaught for Gunnar Optiks, I can attest that a marathon gaming session oftentimes led my eyes to feel dry, itchy, and definitely tired – all of which I surmised might affect my performance. I ordered a pair of Gunnars and gave them a HUGE test run – over 6 months of play, while charting my in-game performance both with and without them. Because Gunnars are somewhat expensive, I wanted this review to be rock-solid and not just some quicky review over a weekend. If you’re like me, before you blow $100 or more, you want to make sure something works.
According to the Gunnar website, their products “increase contrast, comfort and focus while minimizing eye fatigue and visual stress for anyone who spends long hours staring at digital screens. GUNNAR eyewear is powered by i-AMP lens technology comprised of a proprietary lens material in an advanced geometry tuned for intermediate viewing distance and finished with custom formulated lens filters, tints and coatings”. So what exactly does this mean?
First of all, you’ll notice that Gunnars all have yellow tint lenses. This is designed to increase the contrast and focus, and counteract the harsh, high intensity blue light and backlighting from your monitor. I expected the yellow tint to immediately be hard to adjust to, and for the in-game colors to be significantly affected. This proved to not be the case, much to my surprise. The yellow tint helped to “warm” the screen, and the contrast between colors, especially darks, got better. From a FPS perspective, this was a nice benefit because so much is dependent on environmental recognition – straining to see the head poking out from an extreme headglitch, or finding a body silhouette hiding in a darkened corner. Gunnars will not give your eyes target-finder status, but they definitely do help the make colors more vibrant and distinctive.
A second big benefit Gunnars extend is slightly increasing the size and crispness or clarity of what you are looking at. Most competitive players use monitors somewhere in the 20-28 inch range. From personal experience, I can tell you that sometimes, especially when you are locked in a headglitch battle, it can be tough to pick off someone from long range who might only be 1/2 inch tall on your screen. There is also a limited tendency for dark colors to somewhat blur together in Black Ops 2 in my opinion (although this could be a product of my monitor and backlighting), and by increasing the clarity, sharpness of lines, and slightly boosting the size of objects Gunnars are able to counter these negatives and give you an advantage over playing with just the naked eye.
From a performance perspective, Gunnars are not game-changers. They are not a simple (albeit expensive) fix that you can throw on and instantly see a 2000% increase in accuracy. However, after tracking my performance for over 6 months, you absolutely will see modest gains in accuracy. I saw increases in accuracy initially of 2-3% using exactly the same gun setups and only adding in the glasses. Over time, this effect statistically waned a little, something I attributed to my eyes adjusting and becoming more reliant on using the glasses. However, even after factoring in the “bell curve” of initial gains, then somewhat decreased accuracy towards the middle/end of the review session, I still charted out a positive gain in accuracy. Overall, I gained a little better than 1.5% in accuracy just by using Gunnars – a great benefit that pretty much matched my expectations.
The biggest benefit however to Gunnars is that by protecting your eyes and reducing eye strain and fatigue, you are allowing yourself to maintain effectiveness long-term. This is exactly why so many pro-caliber players swear by them. Think about it – most tournaments and even pub gaming sessions are hours-long marathons. Talk to the pro teams who had to grind out 24-hour sessions on BO2 League Play to secure spots in the CoD championships. Playing long hours in front a computer monitor or television will absolutely take its toll on your eyes, that is medical fact. Gunnars help you avoid the short-term fatigue and dryness which allows you to play your best, all while helping to also prevent long-term eye damage. You only get two eyeballs, make them last.
While I can not comment specifically on this because I do not experience headaches from staring at computer screens or televisions, there are numerous people who have claimed that Gunnars are a lifesaver for them, that they experience zero headaches after wearing their glasses during play. I can see how this would be true – a lot of tension-style headaches are caused by eyestrain, one of the key elements Gunnars protect against. If you have to limit your “consumption” of video games due to headaches, it might be a very good idea to pick up a pair to try out. It definitely will not hurt.
From a product quality standpoint, Gunnars are very solidly constructed. There are multiple frame styles to fit any type or size of face, and I was surprised by how light mine were. These are not cheaply-made glasses by any stretch. Lens quality was excellent, with good durability and resistance to scratches. I opted to protect mine with an additional case, which I would recommend to protect your investment as well.
Overall, I would highly recommend Gunnars. Since obtaining them, I have played both with them and without them, and honestly much prefer playing with them now. I have the empirical evidence that shows that my shot is better with them, and my eyes are much less stressed when I do play. I definitely suffered from dryness before, and with my Gunnars that problem has improved dramatically. I love using them so much in fact that I actually wear them at work on many days due to sitting in front of a screen for 9-10 hours a day. They went from being a gaming luxury item to something that I depend on on a daily basis, which is something I was not anticipating and is a huge selling point for me. There are tons of styles to choose from, they are comfortable even with Astros or other gaming headsets on over them, and they even come in prescription lenses for those of you who wear actual glasses. There is quite simply a lot to like and very little, if any, drawbacks.
Gunnars can be picked up either off their website, http://www.gunnars.com or on Amazon and even at your local Best Buy. For the serious gamer or just those who are serious about enhancing and protecting their eyes, Gunnars are a great buy and are 100% Onslaught approved.