At some point in the last few years I’ve amassed quite a collection of glasses designed to reduce the glare from computer screens. In 2012, I reviewed two pairs of Gunnar glasses which were lovely but slightly pinchy, and definitely a little out of the average buyer’s price range.
Earlier this month, Phonetic Eyewear got in touch with me about reviewing their new line of phone and computer glasses. Phonetic caught my attention with a style of lenses that reported to provide the same level of glare reduction without forcing the user to look like a cyber punk loon running around in yellow lenses. So, I decided to give them a try.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve worn a pair of slate Bravo style Phonetics with the clear, blue-light reducing lenses. I wanted to put them through all the hardships my standard reading glasses go through and even started wearing them daily.
I’m not gentle with glasses. I take them off in random places, my pets inevitably jump on the sofa and lounge on them, and I’m constantly bumping my eyes with my fingers and sloshing toothpaste on them (I really don’t know how that happens). So, let’s see if they’ve endured my trials.
Phonetic lenses are made of the same material most prescription glasses are — a rugged plastic with a scratch resistant coating. They’re very easy to clean, and for the Bravo style you won’t have too much trouble wiping dirt and inevitable smudges from the edges of the lens, unlike many wayfarer-style glasses on the market. the lenses aren’t overly recessed and that definitely helps.
Phonetic also offers lenses with reading magnifications. I don’t have a proper prescription, but I started wearing low magnification reading glasses a few years ago to help my eyes focus better when I am reading and working on a computer — which is always. My eyes do a weird jittery thing that makes it hard to focus without something forcing them back into position. Glasses with +0.25 magnification do the trick.
But you’re probably more interested in the glare reducing properties, yeah? I was a little skeptical about the clear lenses offering satisfactory protection until I realized they only give the illusion of being clear. If you look at the pictures I took you likely won’t see any color distortion through the lenses or around my eyes, but this is largely because of the angle.
The lenses have a faint bluish coating that doesn’t noticeably alter the color you see around you, unlike yellow lenses that give the world a vague sepia hue. No, the Phonetic lenses are much more natural in how they filter light, and I’m less inclined to look over them when I’m working on something colorful. They feel more like glasses than protective eyeware which makes them much more comfortable to use.
I also don’t experience the tension I sometimes felt wearing Gunnars. the Gunnars I’ve worn do help with eye strain but the color distortion eventually gave me a headache if I wore them longer than a few hours. I’ve worn the Phonetics every day since they arrived and have yet to feel that tension.
They even work on the Nintendo 3DS! Many strain-reducing lenses disrupt the glasses-free 3D trick in the 3DS screen but I didn’t notice this at all when I cranked the screen up.
Phonetic says the frames (particularly the Bravo style) are made from TR90 plastic, which is apparently referred to as “plastic titanium” by people far more into their plastic resilience grades than I am.
What I can tell you is that the frames are ridiculously light. Like, so light I forget I’m wearing them when I change into pajamas at night. Despite not feeling like they’re on my head most of the time, the frames have endured more than one crazy cat fit when I’m dumb enough to leave them on the sofa cushion. I don’t feel like I have to baby these lenses, which cannot be said for even the Gunnar Phenoms that have a metal frame.
I opted for the thicker plastic frames because metal earpieces have a tendency to cut into my ears. The earpieces are nicely contoured to prevent pinching, which is probably why I forget I’m wearing them. These feel like actual glasses and not something you’ve started using in lieu of seeing an optometrist.
If they can survive my hell cat bounding across furniture and tables, they’ll likely survive whatever you do to them on a daily basis. Phonetic also provides a handy hard case for them if you’re a responsible person that puts glasses up at night (I’m not) and a very soft microfiber cloth in a protective pouch. I keep the pouch in my wallet so I’m never without something to wipe soup and toothpaste off my glasses with.
All Phonetic frames + lenses sets are $75. So, the pair I have and any of the other styles they provide are cheaper than their competitors.
And definitely cheaper than Gunnar’s graphic designer focused line of clear lenses. Gunnar Crystalline lenses start at $99. They look sleek and professional, but I don’t think they’re that much better looking than the Bravo Phonetics I’m wearing. If you need to look like the sharpest, coolest person who has ever put together a Realtor ad, then you might opt for the more expensive set.
Of course this is said without having tried the Gunnar Crystalline series. I’d be willing to at some point, but I don’t know if the experience would be that different from the clear Phonetic lenses I’m wearing now. I just raised and lowered the Phonetics in front of my eyes a few times to notice color distortion. Perhaps things do look a little more yellow with the glasses on but it’s not as overwhelmingly yellow like wearing traditional glare-reducing glasses.
Should You Buy Them?
If you’re in the market for durable, light, and effective glare reducing lenses with affordable lens power customization, Phonetics are good choice. They’ve passed all my tests, are still scratch free, and are now my go-to glasses for work and gaming. They’re so much more comfortable than other computer glasses I’ve worn.
The fact that Phonetic gives you a hard case for them is also nice. Many computer glasses arrive in draw string bags inside cardboard boxes. It just cuts out how much more money you’re investing in likely part-time use glasses.
Clear lenses are cool, and I don’t feel like a massive dork wearing them every day. I’ll likely keep wearing the Phonetics until I manage to break them — which I hope isn’t any time soon.
You can find Phonetic Eyewear here. Check out their explanation on the lens tech.