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Eye strain is an everyday problem for anyone who spends hours in front of a computer. Whether you work with a computer, play on it, or both, you must be feeling some strain after hours and hours of staring at a bright screen. There are many ways to partially relieve this eye strain, and we’ve covered some good software solutions in the past, but did you know there is also a hardware solution? One that claims to eliminate eye strain forever?
Today, I will be reviewing the SteelSeries Scope glasses by Gunnar. These are special glasses made specifically for gamers and others who work with bright screens, and aim at reducing eye strain, improving focus and making everything on your screen look sharper and better. These glasses are a joint effort from SteelSeries, a renowned gaming-accessories company, and Gunnar Optiks, the makers of dozens of different models of technology eyeware. The SteelSeries Scope currently sells for $99 on both Amazon and the SteelSeries website, and we bought this pair ourselves to see exactly what it’s like to work on a computer while wearing one of these.
What Is Technology Eyeware?
First thing’s first. Before diving into the glasses themselves, let’s first understand what they are and how they’re supposed to help reduce eyestrain. According to the Gunnar website, four aspect go into a pair of technology eyeware: lens geometry, lens material, lens tint, and lens coating.
The lens geometry is designed to curve around the eyes and protect them from air drifts that cause dryness and irritation. This is especially important considering the fact that staring at a computer monitor reduces your blink rate to about half or even a third of the normal rate. The lens material is supposed to combine high durability with optimized clarity and color control. The lens tint is designed to filter out high intensity white and bluish lights, and create a more balanced spectrum with warmer colors all around. The lens coating has two functionalities, it both reduces glare and reflections and protects the lenses from scratches and from oil buildups.
One important thing to keep in mind is that Gunnar glasses, and that includes the SteelSeries models, are effectively all the same when it comes to lenses. While you can find dozens of different models aimed at different activities and ranging from $79 to $149, the main difference is in the shape and design of the frame, not the lenses themselves. SteelSeries offers one other model other than the Scope; it’s called the Desmo, and other than its different shape and its adjustable nosepads, it’s identical to the Scope in both purpose and price.
We’re now ready to take a look at the actual glasses!
Introducing The SteelSeries Scope Glasses
The SteelSeries glasses come in a compact cardboard box that makes the glasses themselves entirely visible through the transparent plastic part of the box. As you can see, the SteelSeries glasses are branded as “gaming eyeware”, but there is nothing really differentiating them from other Gunnar models made for computer work.
Opening the box is easy enough, and inside you’ll find a separate box containing the glasses, along with a Gunnar-branded cloth case for storage. The only other item in the box is a piece of paper with product and warranty information, and it is upon reading this little brochure carefully that I found a very important piece of information.
On both the Gunnar and SteelSeries websites you’ll find references to “20/20 ready”. To me, this meant that these glasses have no prescription whatsoever, and are therefore a good fit for someone with perfect vision. Reading the brochure, I found something a little different. It seems that the Scope are “precisely tuned with +0.2 diopters for digital screen viewing distance”. While this might seem irrelevant, it’s pretty noticeable, and we’ll get to that in a moment.
Once you take the glasses out of their box, you immediately notice how lightweight they are – 23 grams to be precise. The frame and arms are flexible yet very durable – you can bend them quite a bit without the risk of snapping them, and dropping the glasses on the floor doesn’t even scratch them, let alone breaks them.
The last thing you can do with these glasses before actually trying them, is putting them on and looking in the mirror. If you’re self-conscious about how you look, you’ll be surprised to know that these glasses, albeit being yellow-tinted and everything, actually look kind of cool.
But it’s not looks we care about, after all, so let’s see what it’s really like working and playing the the SteelSeries Scope glasses.
Working With The Scope Glasses
I tried working with the Scope glasses for several days. As you can probably imagine, my days don’t include a lot of gaming, but do include an endless amount of reading and writing while staring at a computer monitor. When I first put on the glasses in the middle of day, the yellow tint was really soothing in contrast with the bright white light of my screen and the outside world. The next thing I noticed, though, was that everything seems to be just a little bit closer than I’m use to. This is where that +0.2 diopters business comes into play, and while I do have 20/20 vision, it almost felt like I was wearing reading glasses.
It’s hard to see this in the picture, but when you’re actually wearing them, everything becomes just a bit closer. Surprisingly, this also has a slight blurring effect on text, at least for me, which sort of makes me have to squint while trying to read text.
Working with the Scope glasses definitely takes some getting used to. After wearing them for an entire workday, all I feel like doing is taking them off. I feel like my eyes are straining, but when I do take them off, the glare of the world suddenly seems way to bright, and I rush to put them back on again. On a regular bright day, I find myself squinting and straining quite a bit as it is, so it’s hard to say if I do it less or more with the glasses. One thing’s for sure, the Scope glasses didn’t cure my eye strain, and at times, seem to have even increased it a bit.
Remember how we talked about the shape covering the eyes completely? This didn’t really happen for me with the Scope, and while they do seem to protect my eyes somewhat, I can clearly see the regular world from under them, which can be a bit disorienting due to the +0.2 diopters.
Playing With The Scope Glasses
Let me put it out there first thing: I’m no gamer. My serious gaming days were over with the original NES and Super Mario Bros. 3, and since then the most serious game I’ve played was Portal 2. But the SteelSeries Scope are branded as “gaming eyeware” so I gave them a spin as best I could, with a long game of Civilization V, and a shorter game of Nitronic Rush. And this is where the Scope really came into their own.
It doesn’t really come through in a photo, but if you look at the one above closely, you’ll notice how the bottom of the screen looks slightly warmer in color and less harsh than the top part. If you can’t see it, you’ll have to trust me on this: playing these games with the Scope glasses was MUCH better than playing them without. Gone was the straining caused by the blurry text and gone was also the weird sensation that everything was closer than it should be. The colors turned warmer, the lights were less bright, everything came into focus, and playing both these games was really enjoyable.
The glasses are lightweight, so you barely feel it when you put them on, and they fit nicely with a headset without creating too much of a pressure around your head and ears.
Should You Buy It?
Unfortunately, after trying these glasses on for a while, I don’t have a definite answer for this question. If you’re considering technology eyeware, there are several things to keep in mind and think about. First and foremost, do you have 20/20 vision, or wear contacts to correct your vision to 20/20? If not, you might find the +0.2 diopters too much, and get yourself a nice headache when you try working the glasses. If you have good vision, and work full days in front of the computer, I still can’t fully recommend the Scope, as I didn’t feel they actually reduced my overall strain. Yes, the yellow tint was soothing, but I can get the same effect using the free f.lux. If you’re a gamer, however, the SteelSeries Scope glasses could definitely be worth the $99, making everything look better, calmer, more focused and with much less glare.
My advice to you is to find a brick and mortar store close by that sells any pair of Gunnar glasses. Try them on, try looking at a screen, and try keeping them on for as long as possible. This is the only way to really know if you’re going to enjoy them or not. Note that in some stores the glasses are tied to the stand in a way that makes it impossible to get far enough from the screen. It’s crucial, however, that you look at the screen from the same distance you normally do in order to make sure you like the glasses. Don’t give up on your right to do this.
Undetermined. Try it out in person to see if it’s for you.