Gauss glasses started as a Kickstarter project, which I covered while it was still open for backing back in July. Interested in glasses to protect my eyes from the long days that they spend staring at computer monitors, both at work and at home, I decided to back the Gauss Kickstarter. Dubbed “the first true sunglasses for the digital age”, I was interested to check out the project with a hands-on review.
The Kickstarter went very smoothly. The project easily surpassed its goal. For a physical crowdfunding venture, the reward was received very quickly. They would have been here even faster if it was not for international shipping and customs delays. As the Kickstarter project is completed, I would like this review to focus on the product itself.
First, a little bit about myself and my expectations. I look at a screen a significant portion of my workday and a few hours-a-day outside of work. I have very good vision, have never had to wear glasses or contacts, and do not find myself experiencing headaches or eye pain after using a computer for a lengthy amount of time. I was mostly looking for Gauss to protect my eyes from the UV and other harms that my eyes are exposed to.
Gauss glasses protect your eyes in front of screens and outside with self-tinting lenses and a new, proprietary coating technology.
Physically, the Gauss eyewear is very comfortable to wear weight-wise. They are super light and do not bother me with being on my nose, even as a non-glasses person. Part of their low-weight comes from their rimless design. I like the results. They look great and the lenses feel durable. The glasses are offered in seven different models, or shapes of the lenses, which were recommended based on head shape. I played it safe with the model that I chose and went with the recommended shape, the Pit model. The lenses are wide rectangles. The nose bridge feels very sturdy. Unfortunately, the temples feel very thin and the weakest link. However, just resting on your ears, they do just fine and keeping them in the case will protect them.
The Gauss lenses change the color of the monitor output of a bright white page from the bluish color you would see with a daylight light bulb to the slightly yellowish look of a soft white light bulb. I typically prefer the daylight colored bulbs but don’t mind the change the glasses makes because it is uniform and subtle. The color change seems to take effect for pure white without distorting photos or other images that have some whiteness in them. Gauss achieves the color shift by reflecting light in the blue wavelength while other glasses (such as those for gaming) use a yellow-tinted lens to achieve similar results.
The glasses arrived in a simple cardboard box which held the glasses case. Inside the nice case, the glasses resided along with an extra set of nose pads and a cleaning wipe with the Gauss logo. For participating in a social media promotion, I was able to get my name engraved on the glasses. The Gauss name is engraved on the right lens while my name is on the left lens. It is subtle and non-distracting and is overall a nice touch.
That covers the general description of the glasses and what I feel are the positives of the glasses. It is interesting to read the comments on the Kickstarter project where backers have been providing feedback since the first batch began shipping. Some people are complaining about a looseness of the temples and it is recommended to have an optician adjust them. I have not had that problem and feel that the glasses are resting comfortably. As some others pointed out in the comments, I also notice a slight blurriness with text from a normally comfortable distance.
I have tried the glasses in a variety of situations. Indoors, outdoors, driving at night, and such. Outdoors, I felt the glasses did not tint noticeably at all, ruining their usefulness as sunglasses. The low amount of tint is supposed to increase their versatility such as wearing them while driving at night. I could not tell a noticeable difference between oncoming headlights with the glasses or without them. Indoors, the glasses have a noticeable difference on light sources such as monitors and mobile devices.
The actual problem that I have been experiencing with the glasses, which means I will probably be unable to use them, actually comes from their reflective quality. While they did not reduce the brightness of the mid-morning sun, it was noticeably worse to have the glasses on while I walked away from the sun, which reflected on the edge of the glasses and into my eyes. I noticed this same situation with light coming from a North-facing window coming in perpendicular to me were reflected into my eyes by the glasses. I saw this again with a separate computer to my side, my VoIP phone to the right, and even from the whiteboard along my office wall catching the florescent lighting. These reflections catch the blue tint and creates a blue patch shining in your eye.
I don’t know if choosing a different model would have meant less lens to reflect light sources behind me but as it is, it seems to defeat the purpose of the glasses. If I cup my hands around my temples, everything looks significantly better and more focused.
Overall, the Gauss Eyewear is interesting and a new contender for digital-friendly glasses is a welcome site. There is room for improvement but there are also plenty of people posting comments of how they have resolved their eye-strain headaches. As somebody not suffering from those symptoms, the glasses actually seem to introduce more problems with the reflections from behind, the frames in my peripheral vision, and slightly blurred text. If I did suffer from headaches, it would be an easy choosing the lesser of two evils and wearing the glasses to avoid the eyestrain.
If you are experiencing eye-strain headaches, you might consider trying the Gauss glasses or visiting your optician. If you do not experience eye-strain and do not regularly wear glasses, I would have to say avoid the first generation of Gauss glasses. If you already wear glasses, they will be less of a change and can be customized with your prescription while providing blue light protection for your eyes.