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.
Today in WW II: 22 Feb 1942 President Roosevelt orders Gen. Douglas MacArthur out of the Philippines to Australia as American defense of the Philippines fails. More↓
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).
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