Vision Conservation and Readiness

Eye Protection

Last Updated: December 15, 2017

‚ÄčThe cost of vision loss is staggering. The CDC estimated the direct care cost for older adults with vision impairment External Link in the United States was $8.3 billion in 2006. A 2009 Canadian study External Link placed the annual cost of vision loss at $15.8 billion (direct care costs plus worker productivity losses).

Vision Conservation is a clear Department of Defense priority. There are several eye protection standards which largely depend on the environment and risks faced by the end user.  Below is an overview of various eye protection programs of the Services, which embrace applicable standards and requirements (e.g. MIL-SPEC, ASTM, ANSI, OSHA).

US Army: Soldiers receive Military Combat Eye Protection (MCEP) upon initial entry, through a Rapid Fielding Initiative, as part of Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment issued by a Central Issue Facility, through unit supply channels or from self purchase. Only items included on the most current Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL) list External Link are authorized.  All APEL items manufactured after NOV 2011 will be marked with the letters "APEL" on the frame. Follow this link to APEL Spectacle and Goggle Fact Sheets.

US Navy: The Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) cannot dictate policy to the fleet, however, medical personnel are authorized APEL items. Operational requirements drive Navy decisions to issue MCEP to Sailors.

US Air Force: Deploying Airmen receive USAF Ballistic Protective Eyewear which is generally limited to current APEL items.

US Marines: Marines are authorized to wear the ESS Crossbow External Link and the ESS Profile NVG. External Link

For the latest Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL), see PEO Soldier Military Combat Eye Protection PageExternal Link

DoD Civilians: In general, when prescription or non-prescription safety glasses are required, these are covered by Federal Law, 29 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) 1910.132(a) and 29 CFR 1910.133(a)(3). External Link

OSHA Eye and Face Protection Safety Tips External Link


6.1.3. Civilian employees should be issued, and trained in the use of uniforms, other equipment and the same protective gear as is issued to military personnel in theater, to include lens inserts, if required.

Protective Eyewear for Sports
Standard prescription glasses are NOT recommended for use in sports where eye protection is recommended or required. The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) International maintains standards for sports with this requirement to include racket sports (ASTM F803-11External Link), paint ball (ASTM F1776-12External Link), and other sports.

Note: The Tri-Service Vision Conservation and Readiness Office does NOT recommend the use of lensless protectors for racquet sports.