Modern Combat Protective Eyewear


A review of some of the popular protective eyewear brands

One of the leading suppliers of military protective eyewear is Canadian based Revision Eyewear. The company was awarded a $5.8 million contract for 178,000 sets of its Sawfly eyeglasses and a $3.7 million contract for 85,000 sets of Desert Locust goggles. In 2006 the company supplied over 100,000 Sawfly ballistic spectacles to US Army units and is expected to complete the delivery of 300,000 sets of these protective spectacles this year (2007). Among these, 175,000 Sawfly spectacles will be used in US Army Training Bases, as part of the ongoing Eye Protection Program, equipping new recruits with protective eyewear during their basic training and familiarizing them with the importance of routinely wearing protective eyewear in combat. According to Revision, soldier feedback on these products has been universally positive on the eyewear performance, especially in combat situations where these glasses have demonstrably saved soldiers’ eyesight.

Revision Eyewear has developed advanced military eyewear known as ‘desert Locust’. In 2007, following the conclusion of extensive testing, the US Army placed an initial order for 85,000 goggles to equip troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The goggles are exceeding military standards for ballistic resistance and performance. Among its advantages is the low-profile design, compatible with weapons’ sights, binoculars or night vision devices. The Desert Locust uses one-piece protective high-impact, optically correct polycarbonate shield Tough enough to withstand a shotgun blast from 16 feet. During testing, the transparent shield demonstrated withstanding a 12-gauge shotgun blast from 15 feet, using No. 6 lead shot – with no penetration. It also offers unobstructed field-of view, optical efficiency and Revision’s OcuMax permanent anti-fog coating ensuring the lenses remain fog-free under strenuous operating conditions. The shield is interchangeable to accommodate various filters corresponding to specific environmental conditions (clear for day or night use and solar for high-intensity sunlight) and offer protection from harmful UV-A, UV-B, UV-C rays of the sun. Alternative high-impact specialty and laser-protective lenses are available by special order if required. A High-Contrast Yellow Specialty Lens is also available but it is not approved for military use by the US Army. For vision correction, the Desert Locust can hold an Rx Carrier that also clips into the Revision Sawfly Spectacle so that one Rx Carrier can be used with both types of protective eyewear.

Protective Eyewear from ESS

ESS’s goggles are designed to provide comfortable fit with all standard helmets wit Low profile design, suitable for NVG. Their design offers an extra-wide field of view with distortion-free vision, provided by the transparent, ballistic shield made of thick (2.2mm to 2.8mm), and optically corrected high-impact polycarbonate lenses. The system offers 100% UVA/UVB protection, and premium Clear Zone anti-fog / anti-scratch coatings. Impact requirements for these systems is defined by ANSI Z87.1 standard and MIL STD 662F. Clear and Smoke Gray lenses included with all military product. The goggles are fitted with anti-fog speed blowing fresh air in through the bottom edge of the goggle frame and exhausts humid air out the top at fan speeds of up to 15,000 RPM. A unique feature is the tear off lens covers – thin, optically clear films that stack on the outside of the goggle lens. As the goggle’s shield is covered with dirt, mud or dusts that impairs clear vision, the wearer tears off the top-most film to instantly restore clear vision. Goggles are offered with a lense exchange feature, enabling users to place the lense most suitable for their environmental condition and mission requirement.

ESS offers several military grade products, including the Profile Thermal – a compact, low-profile frame designed specifically for improved functionality with helmets, night vision equipment, and weapons sighting. Even in extreme temperatures, closed-cell face padding provides extra comfort while the extra-thick, ArcticZone dual-thermal lens ensures maximum resistance to impacts and lens fogging. In addition to clear and daylight lenses, a Laser Protective Lenses (LPLs) is also available for all Profile series models.

Combat Eye Protection (CEP) was rapidly fielded with the troops sent to the combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, Deployment was accelerated under the Army’s Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI), providing soldiers with state-of-the-art individual weapons, clothing, and equipment to include protective eyewear or combat eye protection. Among the models issued by PEO Soldier soldiers had a choice of several designs, including Oakley’s SI M Frame or UVEX XC. Among the goggles, ESS’ low profile NVG or Land Ops Ballistic Protective, Sun, Wind, Dust Goggles (SWDG) were supplied. Soldiers requiring prescription eyewear were issued the ESS Land Ops goggles and UVEX XC, both fitted with Rx prescription carrier insert.

Oakley Standard Issue (SI)

Oakley’s SI Line (Standard Issue) is not available at retail stores, as it was designed specifically for government and military applications. The protective lenses Oakley are exceeding the US Government ANSI Z87.1 standards for impact resistance, optical clarity and UV protection. Prescription versions are available on all eyewear except the Half Wires and the goggles. The SI M Frame surpasses ANSI Industrial Standards for high-mass and high-velocity impact protection. All lenses are made of pure Plutonite, a proprietary material that offers the highest level of optical clarity available in eyewear.

EPS-21 from Shalon

Shalon Chemical Industries from Israel developed another version of eye protection goggles designated EPS-21 which looks much more attractive than the old plastic goggles it replaced, which ‘protected’ only from wind and dust. EPS-21 was designed to offer ‘one size fits all’ product, accommodating all the most common sizes. The new Israeli goggles can be worn directly or over a helmet, thus integrating comfortably with the combat gear and accessories, such as binoculars, sights and night vision devices. Ventilation ports placed throughout the frame use labyrinth design to provide efficient ventilation without the need for filtration elements. EPS-21 uses an improved format offering improved peripheral vision while optimizing dust, wind and protection from low-velocity particles and fragments. The goggles accommodate replaceable polycarbonate visor offering the ballistic protection and an integral adaptor for prescription lenses frame, and add-on secondary lenses protects against solar or laser radiation, when required.

In this series Defense Update covers the following topics: