Seeing Screens in a Better Light: An Interview with Gunnar Optiks' Ryan Jaress
"Don't sit too close to the screen." It's a warning many of us heard from our parents growing up, but distance isn't the only thing that can harm our eyes. Looking at screens for too long can put strain on our eyes and negatively affect our vision.
In the past decade or so, a few companies have focused on making glasses that help block strain-inducing blue light and decrease eye strain. Gunnar Optiks is one of those companies leading the charge.
Gunnar Optiks has been around since 2006. However, the company has become much more prominent in the last few years because of the exponential growth of gaming. At Twitchcon, we sat down with the company's Assistant Marketing Manager Ryan Jaress to talk about the company's start, its success, collaborative efforts, and plans for the future.
GameSkinny: How did the idea for Gunnar glasses originally come about?
Ryan Jaress: It originally came about by our founder Matt Michelsen. He actually was diagnosed with what's known as Digital Eye Strain. This was a relatively new phenomenon back in 2005 or so. And he pretty much developed Gunnar, and they named it after his son.
We developed amber tinted lenses that block 65% of blue light, which were originally for doctors and those in offices just in front of a screen, but ultimately, gamers were the ones who saw the need first. So here we are today, being known as the number one gaming glasses. We've been around since 2006, and we're continuously growing.
GS: What has the success you've seen since 2006 been like?
RJ: We have had a ton of success in terms of collaboration and developing ourselves as the primary stakeholder in ... gaming glasses... So if anyone in the gaming industry thinks of gaming glasses, they immediately think of Gunnar, and that's because we really paid attention to the community and we're continuously evolving our technology to fit the needs of gamers.
Through history's past, we've partnered with gaming companies such as MLG, and currently, we're partnered with the top gaming peripheral company Razer as well as top gaming company producer Ubisoft. So we're continuously building our partnerships to further advance our authority as the leaders in digital eye protection. Over the years, we've continuously partnered with very heavy hitters throughout our time — since 2006.
GS: Can you tell us more about your partnership with Ubisoft?
RJ: Yeah. We have made three collaborative glasses: one for Far Cry 5, which is the Father, which are the amber-tinted aviator style glasses, which look exactly like the protagonist's glasses. And then we made an Assassin's Creed Odyssey Enigma Glass, which is our Enigma frame that has a nice marbleized black temple and has a customized pouch. And then, for the most recent one, we worked together with Tom Clancy's The Division 2, so we built an all orange temple glass that resonates with the branding of the game, so people can really connect with it.
Also, there's something in the pipeline with a little more of a competitive feeling to it, so be sure to look out for that in the near future — probably mid-October.
GS: Speaking of collaborations, you also recently collaborated with Game Grumps, and I know many people were introduced to your products through them. Can you tell me more about that?
RJ: Our first collaboration with Game Grumps was a smash hit, and we wanted to make a second round collaboration equally as special. We collaborated with the Game Grumps team about the overall design of their signature glasses. Both Arin and Dan chose their colors by hand, which represents their personality (Pixel Pink for Arin, Cobalt for Dan).
As a personalized touch, The Pixel Pink Enigma glasses have Arin's signature and the Cobalt Enigma glasses have Dan's Signature on the left temple.
GS: What are some of Gunnar's goals for the future?
RJ: Our goals are to further advance our lens and frame technology to better suit the needs of gamers and computer workers alike. So we continuously want to be a global company that protects all eyes from around the world. So that's kind of our future goals. We want to make sure that every pair of eyes is covered by Gunnar so they can live in the digital age.
GS: When we were talking earlier, you mentioned making glasses for younger individuals. Can you tell us more about that?
RJ: Yes, so we currently have one pair of glasses that's for developing eyes, ages 12 and up, and that's called Cruz. What the difference is for those is that the glasses don't have our patented 0.2 diopter magnification or focusing power. It's actually non-magnifications because when the eyes are developing, we don't want to mess with their vision because they have sensitive eyes, so they only get the protection of Gunnar with the amber tint and the clear tint.
We're also making glasses for even younger generations to come in the near future, such as ages four to eight and eight to 12.
GS: For your sunglasses, the description on the website mentions the circadian rhythm. Can you tell us about that?
RJ: So it's specifically tinted to help boost circadian rhythm, which is, overall, just a mood booster which will help you sleep better at night. When you eyes are looking at a specific color, your mind reacts to that. So we tried to mimic that sort of effect with the tinted glass. But also, it's for outdoor use and specifically for viewing digital devices outside. It's specifically non-polarized, so when you're looking at screens, it doesn't distort the vision of the screen and reduces glare.
So when you're outside you can look at a phone, you can look at a camera, or laptop, while you're protecting your eyes from the sun and from the screen at the same time.
GS: So when we were talking earlier you mentioned compatibility with headphones/headsets, and as someone who wears both glasses and headphones or a headset at the same time and gets uncomfortable after a while, I feel this is a great idea. Can you tell us more about that?
RJ: A lot of our glasses, specifically our gaming glasses, are built with the gamer in mind.
For headset compatibility, we have made a few frames that have very flat temples to reduce the pressure of headset wearers.
A few examples are Vayper, FPS Designed by Razer, and Torpedo.
It's rather clear to see that those at Gunnar Optiks put plenty of care into their products. Besides Game Grumps, plenty of other ambassadors swear by them, too.
You can order Gunnar glasses through their official website or at their booth at various conventions. If your order products at a convention, Gunnar provides a 20% discount.