What is GUNNAR Optiks?
Did you know that Americans spend over eight hours a day in front of a screen, be it a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone? This technology is destroying our vision and well-being. The blue light emitting from these screens affects our sleep and circadian cycle. It also causes Digital Eye Strain (DES), which is like what carpal tunnel is for the wrists. As our eyes constantly refocus on the screen in front of us, this causes eye pain leading to fatigue, dryness, and blurred vision.
We need to protect our eyes, and this need is what inspired Joe Croft to start a line of glasses that protects wearers from the harmful effects of blue light. He used his patented blue light filter technology to create various tinted lenses that can block out dangerous blue light for both prescription and non-prescription under GUNNAR Optiks. His company continues to grow and saw a sharp boom after Joe’s appearance on Shark Tank.
How Did The Shark Tank Pitch Go?
Joe came into the Tank looking for $750,000 for 5% equity to help him expand his marketing to acquire new customers. The Sharks were impressed with his sales, $6.5 million in 2017 and $7.5 million projected for 2019. They all agreed that his margin of 60% made his company even more enticing.
However, Joe lost them when he revealed his company was $1.2 million in debt, and he only owned 20% of the company. The rest was divided among many other investors who had contributed $9 million to the cause. Barbara was out straight away, calling him an employee with incentives, not an entrepreneur. Robert, Mark, and Rohan were quick to follow. None of them wanted to get involved.
That left Lori, who was interested, saying it was a great product by his debt, scared her. So she offered to invest $375,000 for 8% equity and a loan of $375,000 at 8% interest. Joe tried to counter, but Lori was sticking to her guns. So he agreed, and Lori joined the GUNNAR team.
Our Review of GUNNAR Optiks
GUNNAR Optiks makes four types of lenses with its patented Gunnar Blue Light Filter™, also known as GBLF, where the higher the number, the more protection. These are listed below:
- Clear GBLF 35 – a lens without any color tint
- Amber GBLF 65 – a lens with a slight amber hue
- Sun GBLF 90 – blue tinted lenses for screen protection in bright light.
- Amber Max GCLF 98 – a deep amber-tinted lens for screen use at night.
These lenses are also available with prescriptions for both single vision and progressive.
There is also a wide selection of frames available that have been sectioned into categories such as gaming, computer, youth, reading glasses, prescription, and sunglasses. However, there is considerable overlap, with many frames falling into multiple categories. For example, the aviator-style frames Maverick is in four of the six options. This little oversight just makes it harder to get a good idea of GUNNAR’s collection and makes searching feel repetitive.
Having said that, there is a fun option where you can virtually try the frames on. The website uses your device’s camera and superimposes the frame on your face. This feature makes for a nifty way to try on frames without leaving the comfort of your home.
Pros of GUNNAR Optiks
- Reduces DES
- Blocks blue light
- Helps you sleep
- Prevents your eyes from drying out
- Minimizes glare
- 30-day return policy
- 1-year warranty
Cons of GUNNAR Optiks
- Only available within a prescription limit, as stronger prescriptions can not be made.
- Depending on the frame style, these lenses can affect your peripheral vision.
- Not suitable for anyone who does color design work as the filter affects color perception.
Who is GUNNAR Optiks For?
GUNNAR Optiks’ lenses are for anyone who uses a device with a screen and is worried about the effects the emitted blue light has on their eye health and well-being. It can help people with an eye prescription and those with perfect vision. There is no age limit, and it is safe for children.
These lenses are particularly beneficial to those who work in front of their computer screens for hours on end, day or night.
Are There Any Alternatives?
Many eyewear businesses in the market offer a host of blue light filtering alternatives.
This NY-based business builds its blue light filter right into the lens, which makes Felix Gray’s eyewear more effective at blocking out harmful blue light. There are three types of blue light glasses available, Optical (clear lens), Sleep (amber-tinted lens), and Sun (sunglasses) in a variety of frames and colors. These are all available as readers, prescription and non-prescription. For more information, have a look at the online store.
This family-run business in the heart of New York City has been making eyewear for over a century, so they know how to produce high-quality, fashionable glasses. It’s no wonder celebrities like Jeff Goldblum, Johnny Deep, Mila Kunis, and even Christian Ronaldo all sport a pair. While there is a category dedicated to blue light glasses for those with 20/20 vision, you can also buy any prescription glasses available and get a coat of blue light protection for a surcharge. You can check out the online store for the full range of eyewear.
Foster Grant offers eyewear with blue light filters for everyday wear, reading, and gaming for children and adults. These glasses are available with partial, full, and no magnification, so they are mainly for those who are far-sighted or need bifocal style lenses.
Our Final Thoughts
The blue light radiating from our laptops and smartphones is dangerous, and everyone should wear eye protection. So there is no doubt that the demand for such eyewear will continue to grow. While we are not a big fan of Joe’s business strategy (he only has 20% equity!), we will say that he has built a robust company that crafts some high-quality, comfortable eyewear. Only time will tell how long he stays in control, so let’s see what the future holds for GUNNAR Optiks.