You don’t always need to get eyeglasses through your optometrist (though you should still see one regularly to maintain your eye health and to keep your prescription up to date). In fact, you can find some pretty interesting advances and good deals if you shop online instead. Japanese company Jins Eyewear has a new take on clip-on sunglasses called Switch (formerly Frontswitch) (starting at $150) that are worth checking out. When paired with the company’s blue light-filtering Jins Screen coating (currently offered as a free addition), they produce a compelling and reasonably priced option for heavy tech users, as they reduce eye strain when staring at LCDs. After experiencing the difference firsthand, we’re awarding them our Editors’ Choice.
Switch is currently available from Jins on four different frame designs, each available for $150 before any additional lens options. That includes both single vision prescription and non-prescription lenses, with progressive prescriptions available for another $100. Lens treatments like Jins Screen blue light filter lenses are available for free. Jins sent me a pair of Frontswitch 371 (now Switch 371) frames with my prescription and the Jins Screen filter.
The glasses arrived as ordered, and include a nice hard, rectangular storage case. The frames are solidly made, and after a month of heavy use both with the sunglasses and without, I’ve noticed no loosening of the hinges. The frames are also very comfortable, fitting around my large head and resting on my nose with no pinching or irritation. The arms are curved and covered in a slightly textured rubber to keep the glasses in place, and are flexible enough that they don’t dig into the sides of my head. The rest of the frames are smooth, sturdy acrylic.
Jins Screen and Blue Light
Most LCDs produce a great deal of blue light, as can non-incandescent indoor lighting like LED bulbs. This kind of light can produce eye strain and other forms of irritation. Your own reaction to blue light can very, but there’s at least some scientific justification to using blue light filters.
I occasionally get light-sensitive headaches, and have found that reducing the amount of cooler light I see can help. Jins Screen cuts down on the amount of blue light your eyes take in (blue light is between 380 and 495 nanometers in wavelength, making it “cooler” than green, yellow, orange, or red light, and closer to ultraviolet on the electromagnetic radiation spectrum).
I’m nearsighted, so I don’t usually wear glasses in front of my computer. However, using the Jins Screen lenses slightly softened the harsh overhead lights of PC Lbas, and worked well as I sat a few feet away from TVs to test them.
Jins Screen isn’t the first blue light filter lens we’ve seen. Companies like Gunnar Optiks specialize in blue-filtering lenses specifically for use with computer monitors, TVs, and other screens. Each manufacturer’s method of blue light filtering can vary in intensity and tint; Gunnar glasses generally have a signature pale yellow tint, while BluBlocker sunglasses look outright amber.
Jins Screen lenses have two varieties: the standard Jins Screen for daytime use and Jins Screen Night. Jins Screen is the lighter filter, blocking 25 percent of blue light according to the company and showing little noticeable tint, similar to Zeiss Digital Lenses. Jins Screen Night lenses are notably darker, closer to Gunnar Optiks’ yellowish lenses to block 60 percent of blue light. I got the standard Jins Screen lenses, which look natural and clear when I use them in the test lab under the extensive fluorescent overhead lighting and in front of the many, many LCDs. If I pay close attention when looking at a consistently white screen I can see a very, very slight tint, but colors all appear natural and free of any skewing (which is important when I test TVs).
Clip-on sunglasses are older than I am. They’re just dark, non-prescription lenses you put in front of your regular glasses, often using a clip over the bridge of the nose. Switch is the most elegant implementation of the concept I’ve seen yet. Instead of a clip, the dark lenses attach to your glasses using magnets located next to the hinges on the front of the frames. The lenses themselves are built into a thin façade that matches the front of your glasses frames, and when attached sit completely flush against the rest of the glasses.
The frames I ordered are approximately an eighth of an inch thick. The Switch shades are half as thick at around a sixteenth of an inch. They snap easily onto the front of the glasses, staying securely in place thanks to magnets. They add very little weight or bulk to the glasses, and since they’re flush against the frames they feel very natural. I felt no rubbing or irritating like I’ve noticed in the past with conventional clip-on glasses. The only real complaint I have with the design is that, since the shades are perfectly in line with the glasses frames, pulling them off without touching the lenses can be tricky. It’s a minor annoyance, and easy to forgive when there are no little metal bits to deal with or positioning adjustments to make.
The sunglass lenses are mirrored rather than simply tinted, and there aren’t any options to adjust their treatment like you can with the regular glasses lenses (for which Jins offers 11 tint varieties). They provide a gray tint rather than brown or amber, which cuts down on bright light but I find looks a little cold and harsh compared with warmer tints. These are matters of personal preference, though. All Jins lenses are coated to protect against UV light, so even if they don’t cut down on brightness, they’ll still protect your eyes from harmful radiation on sunny days.
An Elegant Solution
Jins Switch glasses are the most clever and seamless clip-on sunglasses I’ve seen, and the Jins Screen coating is helpful for people who stare at screens for long periods of time. The $210 price tag for both is very reasonable, in line with Gunnar and similar prescription glasses and slightly less expensive than similar pairs I’ve sourced from optometrists. The Switch sunglass coating is a bit cold and gray for my tastes and Jins currently offers only four frames that use it, but the design and overall quality is high. Even without tint options for the sunglasses themselves, the value the Switch glasses present earn them our Editors’ Choice.