I bought my first pair of gaming glasses not to own punks online, but to look at databases and code on 3 screens all day without my eyes twitching me into a migraine. A screen’s a screen, and blue light glasses do help eye strain for those who spend a lot of time in front of a screen.
So when we saw Zenni Optical on the PAX East show floor, we had to talk to them a bit about their specs for gaming and esports glasses for blue light protection – we only knew them as a prescription glasses brand. Their Event and Experiential Manager Elizabeth Bloodworth was kind enough to give us the rundown.
“We started as a prescription eyewear company,” Elizabeth said. “We want to make sure people have high quality lenses at they’re looking through, that are exactly what they need whether they need prescription, or just protection.” To that end they do have a good range of available lenses. Beyond everyday use clear lenses, both sunglasses and photochromic (lenses that darken based on ambient light) are available. And for all of those options you can add features like water, oil or fog-resistant coatings – or Trivex impact-resistant lenses.
The star of the show for gamers and heavy screen users though is their BLOKZ blue light technology, which come in a nearly clear color so your world isn’t colored in yellow or amber (you can also add it to sunglasses for a bit of extra protection). “People say ‘hey wait a second these aren’t yellow so they must not be doing anything.’ We call it ‘champagne’ – it’s just off from clear and they have a little bit of tint to it.” Outside of gamers we think this is a good thing for users that need to be able to see colors a bit more accurately while doing their work, or even just looking a bit more fly on those Zoom calls we’ve all come to know and love.
That covers protection and prescription, but there’s a style element that we found to be much more accessible than other brands that offer blue light glasses. Zenni has 2000+ styles available in different sizes and high-quality materials, and almost all of them can be fitted with BLOKZ lenses. That includes frames made in partnership with the Call of Duty League and teams from Rocket League or League of Legends players. “We are really interested in the gaming space, and people that are staring at screens all day. We want to be part of that community and that’s why we’re here – that’s why we support several different teams and leagues in the gaming space. This is a group of people we feel we can really relate to.”
But they’re not just here for sports of the electronic variety. Zenni is the official glasses of the Boston Red Sox, San Francisco 49ers and the Chicago Bulls.
All of this comes at at an affordable cost, with frames starting as low as $10 and maxing out at $50 on the website, and adding BLOKZ lenses (for non-prescription and single-vision prescription both) is only $16.95 on top. If you want the BLOKZ photochromic that’s $39.99 for the lenses. “Our founder said ‘hey, we’re disrupting the eyewear industry.'” Without a lot of middlemen or brick and mortar presence and competitors that have no motivation to be more affordable, you can realistically get your pick out of a bunch of frames with BLOKZ lenses for $50 or less (my preferred style is under $40).
Even with more complicated styles and prescriptions, you can still come in under $100. Elizabeth gave us herself as an example – “I wear blue light blocking and progressives, and these cost about $85.” That’s pretty impressive. “You can talk to anyone who wears progressives and you’re talking about $300.” For my businesspeople out there – vertical integration can make a big difference to the end consumer.
There’s a social aspect to how Zenni operates as well. The have “Hater BLOKrZ” inspired by Super Girl Gamer Pro LoL Caster Kari, who during a tournament, slid on her shades and proclaimed that they were her “hater blockers,” because they kept her focus on the game and not the haters. $7 from each of those pairs is donated to the Anti-Defamation League and their No Place for Hate program. They also have their Pride line, from which some proceeds go to the It Gets Better Project. Education is also a point of importance for them, trying to get people to understand the importance of eye care from children up through adults.
In all we like the way Zenni operated and are glad to get to have gotten to know their brand a little bit better. We’ll have some pairs to test soon so we can let you know how they operate on a day-to-day basis, so stay tuned for that!