The other day I was sitting at my desk, pouring over some code. I had on my Gunnar glasses with amber lenses. I always use computer glasses at work, to protect my vision, keep my sleep schedule in check, and prevent eye strain (all about how that works below). The frames aren’t too bad looking, but the lenses are an obviously yellow color, and it definitely stands out in a bad way. A friend walked by and said “Hey, Danielle, heading to shop class?” It took me a moment before I remembered the yellow tinted goggles of shop class and laughed. These yellow computer glasses do look a little silly, and have a reputation for only being worn by huge nerds. Facebook advertisements for Felix Gray computer eyewear caught my eye. These are glasses that promise all the benefits of other computer glasses such as Gunnars, but without looking silly. They have no obvious yellow tint to them, but you can tell they filter out blue light. To look at them, they look just like normal glasses. You can even get a pair without magnification of any kind, unlike some other brands, which means you can wear them all the time. I wanted glasses that could protect my vision, keep me from getting headaches, and look stylish enough to look like any other pair of glasses so I could wear them anytime I was looking at a screen. Felix Gray seemed to have the perfect solution for me, so I bought a pair.
I’ve since spent every day over the past week using them whenever I’ve been looking at a screen, which is quite some time. As a computer programmer by day, news junkie by night, NYC subway commuter, and as someone capable of binging an entire show in a few days, I spend a lot of time staring at screens. This is my third pair of computer glasses, the first two being two generations of the fantastic Gunnar lenses, and, if I’m being honest, these might be my favorite pair yet.
What are computer glasses?
(Feel free to jump down to the next section if you already know)
Computer glasses do a few things to help reduce eye strain. The biggest is that they filter out blue light. The human eye cannot properly focus on certain wavelengths of blue light. Our eyes remain in a state of focusing, constantly twitching muscles looking for the right focus. It’s why the stars in the sky always seem a little hazy, even on a perfectly clear night. Look around your apartment. You likely have some electronic device that gives off blue light. For me, it’s the HDMI switch by my TV. It has a blue indicator light. As I look over at it, the blue light is fuzzy, but the green and red lights are perfectly in focus. Your computer screen gives off more blue light than your eyes are used to in their natural environment, even if you use an application or settings to make your screen warmer. Computer glasses filter out this light, so your eyes can comfortably focus on the screen and relax the muscles more. You should still adhere to the 20-20-20 rule, but that’s true of anything you’re reading close to your face. The 20-20-20 rule states that for every 20 minutes of staring at something close to your face (like reading a book or working on a computer), you should look away to something that’s at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. It lets your eyes relax a bit.
Blue light is also the culprit behind some types of insomnia. Our brains control the production of melatonin based on our surroundings. Most people get sleepy at night. This isn’t just from the exhaustion of a long day, it’s also an evolutionary process. Our senses and bodies are more adapted for daytime work, so night time is the perfect time to recuperate. When it’s dark, our bodies make more melatonin, which makes us tired. The blue light emitted from modern electronics actually interferes with this melatonin production, and we may find ourselves wide awake longer into the night.
The second thing all computer glasses do is put something between your environment and your eyes. This helps retain moisture where you need it. People tend to blink less when they’re looking at something, and that can cause dryness. Having anything close to your eyes will help keep them moist, which will reduce that tired, dry eye feeling.
The third thing most of these glasses (including the Felix Gray and Gunnar lenses) do is reduce glare. Glare on a screen tricks your eyes into focusing on something that’s further away, constantly switching between focusing on things that are further away or things closer. It’s the same problem the blue light causes, your eyes are in a constant state of focusing, which wears out the muscles in your eyes that help you focus.Finally, many computer glasses come with optional magnification. This magnification makes the screen seem larger, which means your eyes don’t need to work to focus on them quite as much. It works the same as reading glasses for those who, likely in their older age, have worn out their eye muscles and have trouble focusing on anything close to them. This is definitely helpful, but if you’re someone with perfect vision or who doesn’t struggle to read fine print, it’s less helpful than the other two items. It’s also less helpful if you frequently put your computer down and work on something else.
What did I get?As much as I love Alan Turning, I felt as though the Roebling was more my style. Feminine, but a little more oval shaped. Admittedly, I love a cat eye, and the Roebling was the closest I could get to it. I went without magnification. Felix Gray says if you spend most of your day looking at screens, you may want to choose the magnification, as it allows your eye muscles to relax. However, I also frequently have to attend meetings throughout my day, where I’m still staring at both my computer screen and either a projector or a television screen. On top of that, I’ve got a hard core caffeine addiction, which has me running to the office kitchen to make coffee an inordinate number of times throughout the day. Taking glasses off and putting them back on, and only using them for screens that are close to my face, is a hassle I was ready to throw aside. Both my Gunnar glasses have magnification. The first pair took me a while to get used to and even increased my eye strain for a few days. The second pair seemed to have slightly less magnification, and were very comfortable, completely eliminating eye strain. I decided to find out if this eye strain reduction was more due to the magnification or the blue light filtering. So, I purchased the Felix Gray Roebling frames with no magnification and their standard clear looking lenses. Yes, that’s right, purchased, this review was not sponsored, paid for, or softened for the sake of some company in any way. These are my glasses and I’m free to return them for a full refund if I don’t like them.
Looks and Quality
“What do you think?” I put on my Felix Gray glasses and looked across the table to my friend. We’re having a few drinks after work.
“Warby Parker?” He replied, asking if my frames were from the infamously fashionable company. I corrected him, stating that they were computer glasses, but it was interesting that he first assumed they were those fashionable frames. He did go on to say they weren’t quite perfect for my face (and I agree), but they do look great. In fact, I personally think I look a little better with them than without them, though my friends have been on the fence with that assertion. To each their own, I suppose. I was also complimented on them by someone in the elevator, who said she didn’t know I wore glasses, but they looked good. She was surprised to find out they were the computer glasses that others in our company wear, without the boring frames and goofy yellow lenses. Every option for these glasses is fashionable and unisex, and will look good on just about anyone’s face. The frames are Italian acetate, and have a high quality feel and texture. These glasses were made by the stylish, for the stylish.
I often forget I’m wearing them until they slip down my nose a bit. The bridge is a bit wide, and there’s nothing adjustable either. The sides grip my head firmly enough that the frames aren’t frequently a problem, but it is an annoyance that I occasionally have to deal with, and didn’t have to deal with when I was wearing my Gunnars, which gripped my face like… well, like woodshop googles. I wear them around the office and my apartment, often without taking them off. It’s easy to forget you’re wearing them, which is good, because you likely spend all day staring at a screen, and it’s best to forget about the things protecting your eyes from damage.
There are only five frame options, four when I initially purchased them, but each frame comes in two to three styles. Above you can see the Turing frame in the three options Felix Gray has for it. I wish there were more frame options, but I am happy with my choice. Beyond that, you can choose whether or not to go with magnification (+0.25) or, you can also get your reading glass prescriptions, (+1.0 to +2.5). Unfortunately, they don’t yet have any options for those with prescription lenses. This is one area where Gunnar has Felix Gray beat. They’ve been in the business longer, and have made lenses for those who require corrective eyewear. However, Felix Gray will likely have prescription lenses in the future as well.
Do They Work?
In short, yes. They work very well. I first started wearing computer glasses about 5 or so years ago. I noticed that my eyes were hurting at the end of the day. I’d feel tired, but I’d close my eyes and be incapable of sleep. My eyes just felt worn out, and I didn’t want to do anything after work. The Gunnars (after I got used to them) were able to alleviate this feeling. I’ve noticed my Felix Gray glasses have been able to as well. Plus, I can wear them in meetings or when I’m staring into my phone on the train. Really, because these have clear, normal looking lenses and attractive frames, I can wear them all the time. The lenses even have full UV A/B protection, so harmful UV rays won’t make it to your eyes. I can filter out harmful blue light from any screen I find myself staring at. I haven’t felt eye fatigue, I haven’t felt abnormally tired, my eyes haven’t been dried out, and I’ve been able to look good (erm, relatively speaking) while doing it. They most certainly do work, and work well. In my week of wearing them, I didn’t feel eye fatigue once.
Gunnars were first on the scene when it came to high quality computer glasses. I felt a little silly the first time I wore them, but I couldn’t deny their effect. After I became adjusted to that first pair, I stopped feeling the daily eye fatigue, the sense of weariness at the end of the day. But their magnification, frame design, and yellow lenses always made them a little embarrassing to wear. I frequently took them off to talk to anyone, just so they wouldn’t see me in them. Gunnar has options for clear looking lenses that only filter a little blue light, they have versions without magnification, and they have other frames, but those choices reveal no options for women but their more masculine frames. The Felix Gray frames are definitely a higher quality, and look and feel more like regular eyeglasses. What’s the point of computer eyewear if you’re not going to wear them all the time? I’m willing to wear my Felix Grays when I’m looking at a screen no matter where I am, and that makes all the difference. I will, however, say that the harsher filter on the yellow lenses does feel slightly more comforting to my eyes, but it’s not worth the trade off.
Price and ValueThe glasses are $95, which may sound a bit steep. Also, due to their popularity and high demand, you likely won’t receive them for two weeks. They’ve got an office right here in NYC, but they ship out of Arizona, so after waiting over a week for them to ship out, it then took most of the next week to get to me. Overall, I waited 9 days for them to ship out, 4 days in transit. Shipping is free though, and I understand why these glasses are so popular. There are enough permutations of options (5 x 2.8 x 6 = 84) that a small, new company may have difficulty creating a large stockpile of each option. Gunnars are about the same price but they don’t look as good, and don’t come with a hard case. Therefore, these cost about the same as other high-end computer glasses, they look better while doing it, and they come with a convinient carrying case and microfiber cloth. You may also be able to use vision insurance to purchase them, as well as your health savings account. I didn’t know this when I ordered them, and I’ll be trying to get a reimbursement (ha!). Even without insurance, I definitely think your eyes, comfort, and vision are worth a single payment of $95, don’t you?
I wore the Felix Gray glasses for this review, despite being alone in my apartment and despite having both pairs of my Gunnar’s with me. I can wear them when I get up to grab a snack or move my laundry from the washing machine to the dryer. I can wear them when I look up at the TV screen to catch up on my recorded TV shows. I had the option to go with the glasses with magnification, which do help me focus a bit better by blurring my surroundings, and do have more yellow tinting, but honestly, I prefer my good looking, capable of being used everywhere, and comfortable Felix Gray glasses. These have found a permanent spot in my purse as I used them both at work and at home. If you’re worried about your vision, they’re an excellent choice for both protecting your eyesight, and looking good doing it.