U.S. Military Eye Protection System (MEPS)
Sgt. Thomas Preston wearing the spectacles with sunglass lenses component of the Military Eye Protection System (MEPS).
Military Eye Protection System (MEPS)
Soldiers from B Company, 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment, and D Company, 1st Battalion, 329th Infantry Regiment tested MEPS for the Army.
The U.S. Army and Marine Corps have used a combination of the Ballistic-Laser Protective Spectacles (B-LPS), the Special Protective Eyewear Cylindrical System (SPECS) and the Sun-Wind-Dust Goggles (SWDG) since the mid-1990s to shield troops from eye injury. Four lenses were designed for each item: clear, sunglass, three-line laser protective and two-line laser protective.
When lasers are not a hazard, soldiers can use the clear lens to protect against ballistic and ultraviolet rays day or night, or use a darkened sunglass lens during the day that adds sun glare protection. When lasers are a danger, soldiers would have to switch to a green lens that blocks two wavelengths for use in dim light or a dark lens that shields three wavelengths for use in daylight. Special coloring and coatings absorb the laser to eliminate or minimize injuries.
The combination of BLPS, SPECS and SWDG was too complex with too many combinations. That mixed assortment of protective eyewear was replaced by the streamlined Military Eye Protection System (MEPS) developed at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (Natick). MEPS primary objective was to ensure all troops had laser protection, but it is also designed to stop a .15 caliber, 5.7 grain fragment simulating a projectile traveling at 640-660 feet per second.
Characteristics of the Military Eye Protection System (MEPS)
MEPS is a Joint Army and Marine Corps program, for all ground combat and security personnel. MEPS was developed at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (Natick, MA) under an R&D program that was begun in 1998 with fielding in 2002. With MEPS eye protective gear, the number of lenses is cut in half and the level of protection is increased. Troops will have one system in sleek goggles or spectacles with interchangeable lenses for both. Fit, comfort and logistical efficiency are all improved.
The new protection system carries over the lightweight yet tough polycarbonate used in the BLPS, SPECS and SWDG that passed tests for ballistic resistance, but now the new spectacles bring peripheral coverage that was limited with the SPECS. For laser hazards, MEPS uses two types of laser reflective technologies sandwiched between two layers of polycarbonate for durability, and it covers a wider band of near-infrared wavelength energy than the old systems. Separate daytime and nighttime lenses are not required. Like SPECS and BLPS, MEPS also meets the American National Standards Institute requirements for occupational eye and face protection.
Details of Military Eye Protection System (MEPS)
As shown in the photos just above, MEPS has many details that make it superior to earlier Combat Eye Protection systems. In addition to simplification achieved with a single standard system, MEPS includes:
- Loose strap ends on the MEPS goggles fasten with Velcro (top, right).
- A prescription lens carrier snaps into the MEPS spectacles. Troops with normal vision wear the spectacles without inserts (lower, right).
- Military-issued eyeglasses barely fit inside the Sun, Wind and Dust goggles, but eyeglass inserts fit comfortably in new Military Eye Protection System goggles (top, left).
- MEPS goggles easily tighten and loosen for "fall- to-the-chest" capability, a feature important to a gunner who's trying to use the internal sights in his tank or infantry vehicle (lower, left).
MEPS Goggles are identified as NSN 4240-01-504-5727 and the MEPS Spectacle as NSN 4240-01-525-5085. A list of COTS products (Commercial Off-the-Shelf) have been identified and approved for procurement under MEPS with specific NSNs for each.
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