How many hours a day does the average American spend staring at their digital devices? According to a recent report by The Vision Council, more than 83% use their phone, computer, tablet or video games more than two hours a day, over 50% use two devices simultaneously, and 60% report symptoms of digital eye strain. In the same report, over 70% admitted they had not discussed their symptoms with their eye doctor and were unaware that special glasses are available to greatly reduce the negative effects from this daily use.
Joe Croft, with a BS in Engineering from Stanford, and Jennifer Michelsen, with a BS in Business and International Marketing from the University of Rhode Island, were well aware of this increasing health problem. In September of 2006, they founded Gunnar Optics, now the leading provider of specialized eye glasses designed to reduce eye strain and potential damage from overuse of digital devices.
While eye strain and fatigue can be caused by any visual activity performed over a lengthy period, the significant difference with these modern devices is the emission of blue light. Gary Heiting, OD, senior editor of AllAboutVision.com, explains that “…the amount of time people spend using these devices and the proximity of these screens to the user’s face have many eye doctors and other health care professionals concerned about possible long-term effects of blue light on eye health. … virtually all visible blue light passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina,” which can potentially cause macular degeneration or other serious vision problems.
Gunnar Optics grew quickly, and by 2011 their specialized computer glasses were distributed in Europe, Israel, Canada, and Taiwan, with pending distribution deals in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Australia, India and China. On June 15, 2012, Gunnar was highlighted by John Patrick Pullen in Entrepreneur Magazine as one of “5 Ways Technology Can Help Improve Your Health,” and on January 28, 2013, named one of 100 fastest growing companies by the San Diego Business Journal. In November, 2017, Alina Bradford, writer for CNET’s Smart Home Section, MTVNews’ tech section and for Live Science’s reference section, recommended use of Gunnar glasses in her article, “The Health Hazards of a Writer… and How to Work Smarter.”
Gunnar glasses are designed in numerous styles, from gaming cool to professional chic. The lens technology is the same for both computer and gaming, but the frame styles are different. Gaming frames are designed with flat temples so they are more compatible with audio headsets. Gunnar optics also manufactures non-polarized glasses designed for digital viewing in bright light and outdoors, as well as a Crystalline lens option for work in true color requiring an unaltered spectral shift. In January of 2018, they partnered with Coke Esports to create a special, limited edition gaming frame.
Glasses can be ordered through the Gunnar website and Amazon, purchased at major retailers such as Best Buy, GameStop and Staples, and from numerous independent retail outlets across the country and around the world.