Gunnar Enigma Amber Max review — Fixing a Problem I Didn’t Know I Had

I’ve had a number of Gunnars that I use on a daily basis, but they all had one thing in common – they were either 35 or 65 GBLF. Granted, they have been absolutely magical in terms of either reducing or outright crushing many migraine headaches. We talked at length about this in our interview with Dr. Miki Lyn Zilnicki, O.D., F.C.O.V.D during our recent interview (seen below) and she had a great deal to say about how the technology of the Gunnar lenses come together to create something a bit different with Gunnar glasses. Recently I was thinking about picking up a pair of Gunnar sunglasses, knowing that they have a 90 GBLF, but I thought I’d try my hand at their new Gunnar Amber Max. I’m so very glad I did. While they aren’t sunglasses, after a few weeks of wearing these, I’d like to tell you a bit more about them and why they just might be filling a gap I didn’t know I had.

We Interview: Dr. Miki Zilnicki, Discussing Gunnar Optiks!

After my accident in the military (I was hit by an explosive, losing my hearing and knocking my eyes 0.5 off from one another) I started wearing prescription glasses. I did so for a decade, sporting a round pair of Harry Potter style glasses long before those movies came out. They fit my face, but they were nothing special, and they were insanely fragile with thin and light frames. I had an anti-reflective coating and anti-scratch coating, and they cost me an absolute fortune every time I had to replace them thanks to a scratch or chip.

Fast forward and one Lasik procedure later and I was free of the headaches, but without the glasses and their flimsy coating, I suffered from dry eyes and fatigue. My headaches from starting at a screen for entirely too long were part of the package, but I just didn’t know that then. I tried some of the earliest blue light blocker glasses out there. They had roughly 30-35% blocking capability and they helped, but they were also very dark and very expensive.

My first pair of Gunnars had a lightweight spring steel set with 65 GBLF, but that wasn’t the story here. Gunnar doesn’t apply simple dips and coatings to give them their various capabilities. Instead, these polycarbonate lenses have the coatings applied throughout the production process – baked in, if you will. As such, the ones we’ll be talking about today are dual-sided anti-reflective, have an anti-scratch hard coating, and are oleophobic. (Oleophobic means “anti-smudge”, so don’t say you didn’t learn anything today) How well does that hard coating and scratch resistance work? Well, the neuropathy in my hands causes me to drop things on a regular basis, including these glasses. Despite landing directly on the lenses on hard tile from in excess of 4 feet more times than I can count, there isn’t a scratch, chip, or blemish on my oldest set of Gunnars, which are more than a decade old at this point.

The first thing I want to point out is that these particular Gunnar glasses sport the Enigma frames. These are, by a very wide margin, the most comfortable glasses I’ve ever owned. I’ve worn dozens of glasses, purchased innumerable sunglasses, and have used a half dozen Gunnars with various frames, but these solid frames are the best of them. The 3-barrel hinge design for the arms allows them to comfortably sit on my face without any tension whatsoever. Those multi-barrel hinges are tucked inside the solid engineering-grade polymer frames to keep them from coming out or needing adjustments. The nosepiece is molded directly into the frame shape, meaning you won’t end up with little tiny pad-shaped indentations (or the added sinus pressure) on your nose at the end of a long day. The lenses themselves are mounted in the frame, fully encased so as to prevent any lens flexing through years of use. In short, these are built to last, and since I’ve unfortunately dropped them a few times already, I guess I’ve put that to the test.

To ATTEMPT to keep them safe, the Enigma Amber Max ships with a soft cloth drawstring bag and a small cloth all rolled up. The pouch and cloth are both microfiber, meaning you can clean any smudges you do manage to accumulate with either one. Gunnar also sells a hard case separately (something I use for my Gunnar Marin glasses), so if you are prone to dropping, spilling, or otherwise having your glasses end up anywhere but on your face, you might consider it.

The Enigma Amber Max are a deep amber color, as the name would suggest. All previous Gunnar glasses I’ve used have been a yellowish tint (the 35 and 65 GBLF), so I was expecting that they’d be tinting the world a coffee brown. I also expected that they’d be too dark to use inside, simply to be used outdoors. Well, it’s nice to be wrong every once in a while.

The Amber Max lenses are a whopping 98 GBLF – 8 more than the previous “max” rating you’ll find on their sunglasses. Putting these on, I immediately noticed that the slight tint to the world is far less pronounced from the back than from the front. People can still see your eyes through the Amber Max lenses, but you see everything from your side, and clearly – there’s a slight 0.2 prescription on the lenses, making everything insanely sharp. Allow me to demonstrate.

As we roll into the holiday season, my hours are stretched longer and longer these days. I didn’t realize just how long I was working until I stopped and added it up. With later and later hours, I also noticed that I was having some trouble powering down at the end of the night. What I didn’t realize was that this was very likely due to the light from my screens. Taking a cue from my Google phone’s amber night time mode, I realized that I shouldn’t just be using these Amber Max lenses for driving – I should be using them for my late night work. Wow oh wow do I wish I’d put these on sooner…

The slight tint is stronger than the light touch of the lower GBLF, but as you can see below, it’s not enough to be disruptive. What it does do, however, is cut down on the overall light coming from your monitor without disrupting the color too much. The lenses are also wide enough to encompass your peripheral vision, meaning you’ll see protection from a vector not normally covered by glasses of this type.

The question on your mind might be how these look while gaming. Well, that’s a bit of a mixed bag. While yes, they will pull down the overall brightness of your screen to a downright comfortable level, the color change is enough to crush the inky blackness of any shooter or similar games where stealth might be a factor. Baldur’s Gate 3 was fine in the overland area, but the Underdark lived up to its name, as does the area just after Chapter 1, so those were a no-go. A game like Armored Core VI: Fires of the Rubicon tends to be on the brighter side, so the effect wasn’t nearly as noticeable, so I could enjoy the benefits. It did some odd things with the neon colors of Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew, but other than the jungle scenes where stealth areas were darker, the Amber Max worked just fine. In short, it’s a bit of a mixed bag for gaming, but let’s face it – as much as I’d love it if it was reversed, I spend 10% of my time gaming, and about 90% of my time in front of a screen doing anything but. For those 90%, and especially at night (it’s 11pm as I write this), the Amber Max provides me with a way for my eyes to take it down a notch and prepare for sleep at the end of the night.

Between the lens material and the various dips and tints, the nigh-indestructible Gunnar Enigma Amber Max are a subtle, yet very needed, addition to my overall arsenal. They offer an unparalleled amount of Blue Light blocking with enough of a sepia tone to let your eyes wind down at the end of the day. We don’t think about how much late night screen use we really consume, but maybe we should? We only get one set of eyes, and protecting them needs to be a very high priority. I use my Gunner Marin set during the day, and now my Amber Max at night. Now I just need to finally settle in and pick up a set of sunglasses and I believe I’ll have my whole day covered.

There is always one aspect that comes in at the last second to consider – price and warranty. The Amber Max is surprisingly affordable at just $64.99. Literally any other competitor is twice the price, or more, and for less protection. Gunnar offers an easy exchange program if you are unhappy with the fit or frames (or really anything else), and backs it all with a 12 month warranty for any craftsmanship defects that might occur. If you are wanting these in a prescription lens the price goes up to $214.99 which is about what you’d pay for a normal prescription at the likes of Lenscrafters or any other big box store, and that’s before you add any coatings or protection. Here it’s all baked into the process – no upsale, no extra charges. Max protection, on every set, every time. And yes – they also accept most insurance coverage and FSA cards.

Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief | [email protected]

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.

Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.

Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 28 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes), and an Axolotl named Dagon!



Gunnar Enigma Amber Max

Review Guidelines

Wide-format and with a deep amber tint, the Amber Max offers the maximum amount of Blue Light protection available. As we work later in the evening more and more often, it’s time to start thinking about our eye protection at night. Thankfully, with the Gunner Enigma Amber Max, eye protection has never been so comfortable.

Ron Burke

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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