Gotta wear shades

Army Testing New Eye Protection

Via Stryker Brigade News:

Eye injuries represent almost 16 percent of all injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan since March 2003, according to statistics from the Office of the Surgeon General.

As a result, about 400 Infantry trainees and cadre are testing several different types of combat eye protection that might eventually be issued to all Soldiers.

Col. Chuck Adams, the senior optometry consultant for the Army’s Office of the Surgeon General, said the goal is to achieve a “culture change” from vision correction for some Soldiers, to eye protection for all.

“We’re talking about putting eyewear on half a million Soldiers,” Adams said. “And it’s not so much about which product we choose, but the training. Combat eye protection is embraced for deployed Soldiers. We need to embrace it for all Soldiers.”

I’m surprised we haven’t been bombarded by stories about the lack of up-armored eyewear for the troops.

Sarah Morgan-Clyborne, who has been working the eyewear issues with PEO-Soldier for about 12 years, said the second generation items, intended to provide spectacles and goggles that would share lenses, provide ballistic protection and support prescription lenses, was unsuccessful.

“We did not design a frame that was acceptable to Soldiers,” Morgan-Clyborne said. “Protection was important, but not a motivating factor.”

The missing factor? “It was a great product,” Adams said, “but it doesn’t look like an Oakley and doesn’t look cool.”

So the Army entered the formal contracting process with several commercial vendors, Morgan-Clyborne said, and received unsolicited proposals.

“We evaluate (the eyewear) for industry safety standards and ballistic fragmentation protection, then rank the products and place them on an authorized protective eyewear list,” she said.

Individual commanders can select eyewear for their unit from that list.

Right now, the ballistic protection piece is more important than the laser threat, Fehl said.

I wrote about the “cool” factor missing from the Army’s goggles last December.

The article mentions that getting the troops used to always wearing eye protection isn’t going to be easy, and that many troops are wary of the effect glasses or goggles will have on their ability to do their job. That’s probably the same thing everyone said about body armor, too, but these days I’m thinking most guys are on-board for that.

The proposed eye protection is going to cost $16-$40 per soldier, but that’s peanuts compared to the cost of paying disability for the loss of an eye, let alone the loss of a trained soldier for most duty. Never mind the fact that vision is a nice thing to have.


  1. Never mind looking cool like Oakleys, we need to look intimidating- how about a Darth Vader type mask? We could even incorporate a gas mask into it.