If you’re a competitive gamer or esports athlete, you’ll likely be spending a large proportion of your day in front of a device. After several hours of gaming, you may notice your eyes feeling particularly tired, strained, or dry. Sometimes, a headache may strike, throwing off your gameplay.
These are all hallmark symptoms of digital eye strain, a condition many avid gamers and esports professionals experience due to the long hours they spend staring at their screens. So, how can you counter this?
You may have heard of gaming glasses, and as its name implies, these glasses are marketed specifically to gamers. They’re also commonly called blue light glasses.
But what do they do, and do they work? We’ll also cover some of the most popular gaming glasses brands in this article, as well as factors to consider when picking a pair for yourself.
How does Gaming Affect Your Eyes?
Playing video games for extended periods can increase your risk of experiencing this condition called digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome (CVS). Computer vision syndrome is commonly characterized by symptoms that affect vision, such as eye strain, blurred or double vision, and dry eyes. It can also involve other symptoms such as headaches, neck pain, or back pain .
One of the contributing factors to these eye-related CVS symptoms is blue light. Blue light is emitted by electronic devices and passes through the lens and cornea before reaching the back of your eye .
Research suggests that this blue light can also cause eye diseases such as cataracts and worsen your eyesight. Nonetheless, these studies were carried out in animals, and scientists are not yet able to confirm the long-term effect of blue light exposure on our eyes .
What do Gaming Glasses do?
Gaming glasses from various brands are said to help protect your eyes and enhance your gameplay performance. Most, if not all, are built with blue-light filtering lenses that lower your exposure to blue light and limit your risk of experiencing CVS. Hence, these glasses may help prevent dry eyes, eye strain, eye fatigue, and headaches.
Some of these glasses come with lenses that may mitigate color distortion and enhance contrast and depth perception, elevating your gaming experience and performance. Manufacturers have also specifically designed these glasses to fit snugly even when you’re wearing headphones. Some brands do offer these glasses with prescription lenses, an option for gamers who don’t have 20/20 vision.
However, most of these gaming glasses are just regular blue-light filtering glasses that you can get from your local eyewear store. But of course, gaming glasses often come with more eccentric and exciting designs to match your gaming gear.
Do They Work?
Research has investigated the efficacy of blue-light filtering glasses, and the results are mixed. Some studies have found no significant improvement in CVS symptoms when using blue-light glasses, while others have suggested that they actually help alleviate such symptoms [3, 4]. In short, they may work for some people but not for you, and vice versa.
How to Pick a Suitable Pair of Gaming Glasses
It’s best to pick a suitable pair of glasses under the advice and recommendation of a trained professional or optometrist, especially if you need prescription lenses. You can choose to get them online, but be sure to research the brand and product before purchase.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing a pair of glasses for gaming.
- Degree of light blocked. Red and orange lenses block the highest spectrum and percentage of light, but they can heavily distort the colors on your screen. Yellow lenses may block a lower portion of blue light than red and orange ones, but they are more effective than clear lenses. If the games you play require good contrast and colors, then red or orange lenses may not be suitable.
- Other features for lenses. You can keep an eye out for lenses that shield your eyes from UV rays. Anti-reflective and anti-glare coatings may also help ease eye strain.
- Size. If you wish to wear blue light glasses over your current prescription glasses, it’s much safer to head down to your local store so you can try them on yourself. However, some online shops sell prescription lenses with blue light filtering coatings, so you can purchase a size that’s similar to your current pair of glasses.
- Comfort and design. A good-fitting pair of glasses should rest comfortably on your face without causing discomfort, even after prolonged periods of having them on. If you often use headphones, it may be worthwhile investing in a pair that fit well with them on.
- Cost. Gaming glasses can cost anywhere from $15 to over $100. You won’t necessarily have to break the bank to cash in on them, but if you’re going to use them daily, it’s best to invest more for a higher-quality pair.
Our Pick of the Best Brands Offering Gaming Glasses
Based on our research, here are some of the top brands to consider.
GUNNAR is undoubtedly one of the most popular brands in the market. They specialize in creating gaming glasses, and these come with different color lenses (from amber or light yellow to darker orange tints). Depending on the lens you choose, these glasses can block up to 98% of blue light from entering your eyes. Their glasses also protect from UV rays and come with anti-reflective coatings that enhance visual clarity and reduce eye strain. To further improve durability, the lenses possess an external hard coating that protects them from scratches. You can also get prescription gaming glasses from this brand. GUNNAR’s gaming glasses range costs anywhere between $50 to $130.
The HyperX range is crafted to be comfortable, lightweight, and stylish. These glasses can fit with or without headsets and come with both blue light and UV protection to dampen the effect of harmful light on your eyes. They offer prescription options for those who need it and a range of colors and sizes for each model. However, there isn’t much information on their site about the spectrum and percentage of light blocked by the lenses. Judging from their “crystal-clear lenses” that do not distort colors, you can expect the degree of light blocked to be lower than that of amber, orange, or red lenses. HyperX glasses cost between $70-$100, with our favorites being the Spectre 1st Edition, the Spectre Stealth and the Spectre Scout, images below:
If you don’t need prescription lenses and you’re looking for more affordable options, the J+S range is one to consider. These come with light-yellow lenses that block up to 90% of the most harmful blue light rays but let in a large percentage of less harmful, low-energy blue light to avoid too much color distortion. However, you get to choose between two types of lenses, the low color distortion lenses that offer lesser protection and the high-definition lenses that provide more protection and are better suited for prolonged computer use. The J+S range has a simple, minimalistic design, so nothing too quirky or eccentric. You can get a pair between $25-29, with some of our favs being the Classic Rectangle Frame, the Round Frame, and the Wayfarer style Frame.
There’s absolutely no guarantee that blue-light glasses will work for you. And unfortunately, they are unlikely to enhance your gameplay performance to a significant degree. Nonetheless, there is pretty good anecdotal evidence that these may help minimize eye-related symptoms in gamers.
In any case, it’s best to get the advice of an optometrist before purchasing a pair, especially if you need prescription lenses.