Vision Conservation is a clear Department of Defense priority. The purpose is to ensure that military, civilian and contract employees have the visual performance, optical devices and ocular health necessary to perform their assigned activities in a safe and efficient manner.
There are several eye protection standards which largely depend on the environment and risks faced by the end user. Below is an overview of the applicable standards and requirements (e.g. MIL-SPEC, ASTM, ANSI, OSHA).
The OSHA requirements are:
- Eye and face protection must be provided whenever necessary to protect against chemical, environmental, and radiological hazards or mechanical irritants;
- Must conduct a workplace hazard assessment; and
- Must provide adequate training for all workers requiring eye and face protection.
Eye and face protection must comply with ANSI Z87 and must, at a minimum, meet the following requirements:
- Protection must provide adequate protection again the particular hazards for which they are designed;
- The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses eye protection that provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects. Detachable side protectors (e.g. clip-on or slide-on side shields) meeting the pertinent requirements of this section are acceptable;
- Be of safe design and construction for the work to be performed;
- Be reasonably comfortable when
worn under the designated conditions;
snugly and not unduly interfere with the movements of the wearer;
- Be capable of being disinfected;
- Be easily cleanable; and
- Be distinctly marked to facilitate identification of the manufacturer (The required markings are listed below).
OSHA states that use of PPE – considered the last line of defense against worker injury and illness – is acceptable when controls higher in the hierarchy don’t eliminate the hazard or are in development. Numerous types of PPE are available, depending on work conditions and the part of the body that might be susceptible to a hazard. To assist in compliance with regulations and is the selection of eye and face protection, OSHA has a Eye and Face Protection eTool which includes a page on Selecting PPE for the Workplace and OSHA Requirements which has information regarding the standards, training, PPE fitting and maintenance as well as information regarding the wearing of prescription lenses and contacts.
The ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2015 Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices standard sets forth criteria related to the general requirements, testing, permanent marking, selection, care, and use of protectors to minimize the occurrence and severity or prevention of injuries from such hazards as impact, non-ionizing radiation and liquid splash exposures in occupational and educational environments including, but not limited to, machinery operations, material welding and cutting, chemical handling, and assembly operations. Certain hazardous exposures are not covered in this standard such as: Blood borne pathogens, X-rays, high energy particulate radiation, microwaves, radio-frequency radiation lasers, masers, and sports and recreation. An Overview of the 2015 standard is available from the While the Standards prior to 2010 were organized by type of device, the 2010 and 2015 Standards focus on the hazards themselves and are organized by the nature of the hazard - impact, optical radiation, droplet and splash, dust and fine particles, and mist. The intent is to encourage the users to evaluate the specific hazard during their hazard assessment and then select the appropriate protection. When purchasing PPE it is strongly recommended that you purchase items that comply with the latest standards.
Military Combat Eye Protection
MCEP helps preserve performance in both combat and training by reducing risks associated with exposure to hazards ranging from fragmenting munitions and other airborne debris to invisible hazards such as ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Only eyewear that meets the stringent ballistic fragmentation testing (MED-PRF 32432) and well as ANSI Z87.1 can be approved to make that list.
For more information regarding available military eye protection go to Personal Protection Equipment - Military Eye Protection. For additional information regarding and to view the current QPL from PEO Soldier for eyewear protection, go to APEL . There is also a poster that is available for downloading at APEL Poster .
Sports Eye Protection
Prevent Blindness states that more than 25,000 people seek treatment for sport-related eye injuries each year and provides Tips for the purchase of sports eye protection as well as a Fact Sheet regarding the recommended eye protection for some sports . ASTM International is another standards development organization. The Subcommittee F08.57 on Eye Safety for Sports provides the recommended standards when considering eye protection for sports and lists all of the available standards for those having specific standards such as paintball, field hockey, women's lacrosse, racket sports and others. In addition the ASTM F803-14 standard covers a number of sports that do not have separate standards but are sports that are considered to have a potential for eye injuries such as baseball, soccer and others. Remember to look for the appropriate ASTM label on the product for a specific sport prior to purchasing them. Standard prescription glasses are NOT recommended for use in sports where eye protection is recommended or required. Eyewear that is ANSI Z87 compliant is better but still is not preferred to sport specific eyewear that are ASTM compliant.
Note: The Tri-Service Vision Conservation and Readiness Program at APHC does NOT recommend the use of protectors for racquet sports that do not have protective lenses.