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Sunday, December 9, 2012

How Soldiers Protect Their Eyes in the Field

Everyone is at risk for eye injuries whether it is from sports, or the elements; however, some people are at a higher risk than others. Men and women in the armed forces are part of this high risk group. Approximately 10 percent of all nonlethal military engagements result in injury to the eye, and 90 percent of these eye injuries are preventable.

Since March of 2003, ocular (eye) injuries have comprised about 16 percent of all medical evacuations from combat areas. In the Gulf War and Vietnam, only 9 percent of all medical evacuations included eye injuries. The most common causes of these eye injuries include:
    • Dust
    • Low-velocity fragments
    • High-velocity impact
    • Laser radiation

The military has become more conscientious regarding ocular injuries in recent years, and has developed the APEL (Authorized Protective Eyewear List). This list is updated twice a year with the newest eyewear that meets military standards.

The Combat Eye Protective program, or CEP, issues eyewear to soldiers during basic training and instructs them on the importance of wearing protective eyewear during training exercises and in combat. Protective eyewear is also issued to those soldiers already in the field. Standard issue protective eyewear typically falls into one of three groups:
    • Ballistic Laser Protective Spectacles (BLPS)
    • Special Protective Eyewear Cylindrical System (SPECS)
    • Sun, Wind and Dust Goggles (SWDG)

Soldiers are also informed about the difference between sports or “performance” safety glasses (which can actually be a hazard) and commercially available products that meet military standards. Eyewear approved by the military offers ballistic and UVA/UVB protection and is only available in clear or gray tints. Other tints such as yellow, rose, orange and tints called “blue blockers” are not authorized because they interfere with color perception, which can affect the soldier’s ability to complete combat missions.

Most ocular injuries can be easily prevented with the use of polycarbonate safety lenses in spectacles and goggles. There are several options available from manufacturers whose products meet or exceed the military standards, and almost all of them can be modified to accommodate soldiers who need prescription glasses.

Revision Eyewear

Revision Eyewear, Inc. of Williston, VT is one of the leading manufacturers of protective eyewear for the United States military. They manufacture the Desert Locust Sunglasses and the Sawfly Eyeglasses. The Desert Locust line is extremely versatile and is compatible with weapons’ sights, night vision goggles and binoculars. It uses a one-piece high-impact shield that can withstand a 12 gauge shotgun blast (using #6 lead) from about 15 feet and has the option to add an anti-fog fan system. The Desert Locust has been heavily used in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Sawfly Military Eyewear System has interchangeable lenses, and is capable of accommodating a prescription insert for those soldiers who need visual correction. The Sawfly is designed to work with most equipment flawlessly, including headsets. Three different sizes are available.

Eye Safety Systems

Eye Safety Systems, or ESS, is another major provider of protective eyewear for the military and is based in Idaho. Goggles by ESS have a compact design that allows them to be used with all standard helmets. The shield is made of thick polycarbonate lenses, and they goggles provide an extra wide field of vision. ESS carries several different lines of protective eyewear including their Turbofan and Profile lines.

The Turbofan line has an anti-fog fan built into the frame. This fan blows fresh air up through the bottom of the spectacle, and humid air escapes through the top of the frame. They also have an anti-fog and anti-scratch coating. ESS goggles are fitted with tear-off sheets similar to the tear-off sheets on NASCAR windshields. The sheets are stacked on the outside of the lens and when dirt, mud or other debris begins to interfere with vision, the soldier can tear the top layer off the lens, restoring visual clarity.

ESS also has the Profile line of goggles specifically designed to be compact to enable them to function with night vision goggles, helmets and weapons’ sights. The Profile line also has laser protective lenses available.

Standard Issue Combat Protective Eyewear

There are different choices for soldiers who wear prescription glasses and those who do not. Standard issue safety eyewear for soldiers who do not wear prescription glasses includes:
    • Oakley SI M frame Spectacles
    • ESS Profile Night Vision Goggles

For those who require prescription visual correction, the ESS Land Operations goggle, is standard issue and fits over a pair of prescription glasses. The UVEX XC Spectacles made by the Bacou-Dalloz Group is also standard issue and can be fit with a prescription lens insert.

Laser Protection Lenses

One area of eyewear that is still undergoing intense research is laser protective lenses. Laser radiation poses a problem because of the many different wavelengths. Each wavelength requires a different lens to filter the radiation. At this time, there are protective goggles with interchangeable lenses to protect soldiers from this radiation on the battle field.

Are you curious if you can recieve Laser Eye Surgery in Dallas? Maybe you just want to speak to a real doctor about whether your vision can be corrected. Either way, contact the Carter Eye Center to have a free, hassle-free consultation.

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