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SteelSeries DESMO Gaming Eyewear Review

Date: January 2, 2012
Author(s): Rob Williams

Our digital lives have us spending a ton of time in front of screens, and sometimes eye strain can occur as a result. GUNNAR Optiks has been producing glasses for some time to help counter this problem, and SteelSeries, seeing an obvious advantage for gamers, has teamed up with the company to create the DESMO.


When someone tries to sell me a product that promises things nothing short of amazing, I tend to be skeptical. It might be due to the fact that I watched an innumerable amount of infomercials late at night growing up when I should have been sleeping, but I’m a hard sell.

The term “snake oil” is one I’ve used often, even to describe products like the one we’re about to look at. Glasses that reduce eye fatigue? Sounds a little too good to be true, right? When offered a pair of SteelSeries’ DESMO to review, I expressed my skepticism.

Some companies at that point would back out on sending the product with the fear that I’d post a less-than-ideal look at the product – not SteelSeries. The response from our rep was, “I think it’s worth you taking them for a spin.” Challenge accepted!

In addition to being skeptical, I’m also stubborn. I’m supposed to wear actual prescription glasses, but don’t. As such, I don’t have 20/20 vision, so I wondered that even if the glasses “worked”, would they work for me? The answer is yes. Quite simply, if you ever suffer from eye fatigue or generally feel crappy after a gaming session or from just staring at a screen for a while, these can prove beneficial.

SteelSeries DESMO Gaming Eyewear

I’ll just come out with it. Despite severe initial skepticism, I like these glasses and am glad I have them. When I first received the sample two months ago, I began using it on purpose while gaming even if I didn’t feel like I needed them, but after a while, I found myself wanting to use them on random nights even while just working.

I’m not a scientist, nor a doctor, so I’m not going to pretend I understand the precise mechanics of how glasses like these work. I am however a master at taking information off of a product page and rehashing it into my own words, so prepare to see a master at work.

SteelSeries DESMO Gaming Eyewear

Produced in conjunction with GUNNAR Optiks, the DESMO from SteelSeries promises to reduce eye strain, eye fatigue and glare while improving contrast and focus. For those with prescription glasses, GUNNAR’s offerings are RX-compatible, although information is light on the official site on how to go about getting a pair (it might be as simple as inquiring with your eyewear place).

Polarized glasses share similar goals as GUNNAR’s tinted glasses, however they don’t reduce things like eye strain or fatigue as the DESMO does. GUNNAR accomplishes this feat by tinting the lenses an amber color, as it’s a warmer color and kinder to your eyes. In addition, the lens filters out artificial light (eg: all light that’s not natural), which is what improves contrast and focus.

And… that’s about all there is to say. I guess you don’t need to be a scientist or a doctor to understand this after all.

SteelSeries DESMO Gaming Eyewear SteelSeries DESMO Gaming Eyewear

An obvious catch with glasses like these is the amber color, and while it is noticeable, it’s not a problem. The first time I wore the DESMO, I felt like the tinting was a bit too noticeable, but like most new peripherals, all it takes is a little bit of time to get used to.

In asking us to take a look at the DESMO, our SteelSeries rep told us that they’d have to be seen to be believed (no pun, of course), and it’s true. While there is an amber tint added to your vision, it’s not as though you’ll be unable to distinguish one color from another. You’ll just have an added tinge, and while gaming, it’s going to be the last thing on your mind.

I wanted to give an example of what a game looks like with the glasses on, but after spending 30 minutes inside of Photoshop, I deemed that an impossible task. You can easily add an amber tinge to a photo, but in doing so it loses its bright colors and contrast, which these glasses do not cause. That said, I created an image anyway, seen below. Just please realize that the flat color on the tinged side is not representative of actual use. Had I been able to add a processing effect inside of the game, the picture would be a lot more realistic.

SteelSeries DESMO Gaming Eyewear

The DESMO isn’t the first pair of glasses like this that SteelSeries has released. Last year, the company released the Scope, which are shaped more like reading glasses. I also have a pair of those here that I haven’t tested, but will soon (I’ll add thoughts on those in the review thread for the DESMO later).

As mentioned in the intro, I have come to like these glasses and use them regularly. I spend a lot of time on gaming each week, so tack on all the work I do in front of the PC among other things, and it’s no wonder that I feel eye strain from time to time. But since having a pair, I haven’t had that issue. There are times now where I might feel like putting them on in the early evening just because I can feel a bit of eye strain coming on.

The best use for glasses like these is to wear them before eye strain occurs, though that’s easier said than done. Once you do have eye strain, these glasses are not likely to rid it entirely, though it could help improve it after wearing them for a little while. That’s been my experience with the glasses so far, at least. Even if I do continue to have eye strain after putting the glasses on, it never gets worse, but remains minimal.

That said, I don’t think glasses like these are for everyone. If you happen to have perfect eyesight (lucky you) or simply don’t ever experience eye strain / fatigue to begin with, then these will do nothing for you. GUNNAR claims that even if you do fall into this category, the problem will catch up with you eventually. But I don’t quite buy that – and if it does happen, then that’s the time to buy a pair. It’s not as though years of perfect eyesight without wearing these glasses is going cause some irreparable damage later.

For those with less-than-perfect sight, or those who simply experience all of the issues mentioned earlier in the article, the DESMO is worth a look – or even the Scope as they feature the same lenses but a different style. The difference between the two is that the DESMO is meant to cover your entire field of vision, and it does that quite well. If its implementation were any better, they would have to be full-faced goggles.

SteelSeries’ DESMO are not life-changing glasses, but they can help save you a lot of headaches (literally).

SteelSeries DESMO Gaming Eyewear
SteelSeries DESMO Gaming Eyewear

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