Goggles & Other Combat Eye Protection

Soldiers engaged in combat operations and training exercises run a high risk of damaging their eyesight. Studies of wounds in Iraq indicated that sixteen percent of casualties among Coalition soldiers involve eye injuries. While flying shrapnel from enemy weapon blasts is the most dangerous threat to eyes, many other hazards impact eye safety such as sand, dust, debris (from helicopters, high winds, or explosive overpressure), flash fires, and lasers.

Spc. William Mckenzie, 101st Airborne Division, patrolling in Salah Ad Din Province, Iraq, 1 August 2006
Spc. William Mckenzie, 101st Airborne Division, patrolling in Salah Ad Din Province, Iraq, 1 August 2006.

Today in WW II: 17 Oct 1941 USS Kearny [DD-432] torpedoed but not sunk by German submarine U-568, near Iceland, killing 11 sailors, the first American military casualties of WW II.  More 
17 Oct 1943 At Gothenburg, about 10,000 seriously wounded and sick German and British POWs, about half from each side, make up the first British-German prisoner exchange of WW II [17-21 Oct].
Visit the Olive-Drab.com World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

Goggles & Other Combat Eye Protection

Tank crewman, Fort Belvoir, VA, August 1941, wearing M-1938 Resistal tanker goggles
Tank crewman, Fort Belvoir, VA, August 1941, wearing M-1938 Resistal tanker goggles.

Goggles and other combat eyewear protect against lasers and helicopters, fairly new threats, as well as other ground combat eye hazards that have been with soldiers as long as they have gone outdoors. Before mechanization of transport and armaments, speeds were slow and the main hazards were weapons and explosions or natural events like dust storms. But motorized vehicles changed all that and led to development of specialized eyewear -- usually goggles -- for tankers, motorcycle or jeep riders and others who had special exposures. Modern developments of specialized plastics and other materials have created superior solutions to these ancient problems for the soldier.

This section focuses on military eyewear for ground combat, but of course aviation crews, naval crews, and others have long had goggles or shields for their duties. There are many other military optical requirements ranging from welding hoods to night vision goggles which are not covered here.

Combat Eye Protection Defined by the U.S. Military

This section covers protective eyewear used by the U.S. military ground forces from World War II to the present. Click on the link to go to the subsection pages for these topics:

Combat Eye Protection Program (CEPP) & Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) Products

As of mid-2006, five sets of eyewear protection have been issued in support of the Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI) Combat Eye Protection Program (CEPP) to units being forward deployed. They are the Eye Safety Systems (ESS) Land Ops Goggles, ESS Profile NVG, Wiley-X SG-1 Spectacle (until stock is exhausted), UVEX Spectacle, and Oakley SI-M Frame (Ballistic) Spectacle.

In addition, authorized ballistic commercial eyewear are UVEX XC, Oakley SI-M Frame, Body Specs Pistol, Revision Military Eyewear, Wiley-X SG-1 and PT-1SC, ESS ICE 2 Goggles, ESS Land Ops, ESS Vehicle Ops, ESS Flight Deck, ESS Profile NVG, Arena Flakjak, Pyramex Venture II, and Ballistic Optical Armor (BOA).

Find More Information on the Internet

There are many fine websites that have additional information on this topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go. Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.

For good results, try entering this: combat eye protection. Then click the Search button.

privacy policy