Requirements for Military to Use Eye Protection
The requirement for use of eye protection by military personnel is very clear and not open to interpretation. In short, wearing a uniform does not mean the same as something being "Military Unique." As stated on other pages, DoDI 6055.01 DoD Safety and Occupational Health Program states in paragraph 2c that:
"While military personnel are excluded from the definition of "employee" in federal regulatory standards distributed by OSHA in Reference (f), the DoD Components must apply these OSHA standards to military personnel in nonmilitary-unique workplaces. In uniquely military workplaces when compliance with existing SOH standards for military and civilian personnel is impracticable, infeasible, or inappropriate, or when no standard exists for such military application, the DoD Components must apply risk management procedures. The results of the risk management decision must be communicated to all affected personnel. "
"Nonmilitary-unique DoD operations" are defined by DoD the same as it is defined by OSHA in Section 1960.2(i) -Basic Program Elements for Federal Employees OSHA:
"Workplaces and operations comparable to those of industry in the private sector such as: vessel, aircraft, and vehicle repair, overhaul, and modification (except for equipment trials); construction; supply services; civil engineering or public works; medical services; and office work."
"Uniquely military equipment, systems, and operations" are defined as:
"The design of Department of Defense equipment and systems that are unique to the national defense mission, such as military aircraft, ships, submarines, missiles, and missile sites, early warning systems, military space systems, artillery, tanks, and tactical vehicles; and excludes operations that are uniquely military such as field maneuvers, naval operations, military flight operations, associated research test and development activities, and actions required under emergency conditions."
So, in short, if someone does the same task outside of the military, OSHA requirements must be applied including the use of appropriate eye protection. If not, if the task is military specific, apply risk management to determine what can be done to provide eye protection to the warfighter. When in doubt, it is simplest to require the use of eye protection.
Military Combat Eye Protection (MCEP)
The Military Combat Eye Protection Program (MCEPP) which is managed by Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier under the Product Manager Soldier Protective Equipment (PM SPE) was established to validate and authorize protection eyewear for use by military personnel and works to improve warrior acceptance of the use of protective eyewear reducing the likelihood of eye injuries. They manage the Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL) as a Qualified Product List (QPL) of commercially available protective eyewear from manufacturers who have had their products examined and tested and have satisfied all applicable qualification requirements for that product. Noting that body armor has become almost universal, and soldiers have benefited from increased survivability on the battlefield, the MCEPP objective is to make "eye armor" similarly universal during field operations. Since soldiers should "train as they fight," protective eyewear should be worn by soldiers at all stages of their military training.
Fragmentation, optical, and user testing in a field environment are among the tests that eyewear must successfully complete in order to be considered for approval. Commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products that meet the eyewear specification requirements and offer an overall improvement in performance over current products are included on the APEL. The use of 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. Other requirements include:
- Spectacles must be capable of defeating a 0.15 caliber, 5.8 grain, T-37 shaped fragment simulating projectile at 640 feet per second which is much better than the current ANSI standards for high velocity impact requirements.
- Spectacles must weigh 1.7 ounces or less
- Goggles must be capable of defeating a the T-37 projectile at 550 feet per second and weigh 5.1 ounces or less
- Must absorb 99.9 percent of UVA and UVB light
- Must carry the APEL logo on the eyewear (on the left side).
- Where laser protection is required, contact PEO Soldier Product Manager SPE through PEO Soldier Contact Us Page
As stated on the Approved Eyewear QPL, "Please be advised that only eyewear on the APEL have been validated against Army requirements for ballistic fragmentation protection. Other commercial eyewear products, even if marked ANSI Z87.1 compliant, do not necessarily meet military impact requirements. Eyewear not on the APEL are not authorized for wear during combat, training, or when there is a risk of impact injury to the eyes." MCEP is available in a variety of sizes and styles. Allowing Soldiers a choice in eye protection to meet mission needs, MCEP improves Soldier acceptance of authorized protective eyewear, thus reducing the likelihood of eye injuries. Identification of APEL products is simple in that all products being provided to the US military under the APEL must bear the "APEL" logo on the left side of the frame and only products sold for military use via government contracts or at AAFES may bear the logo.
Universal Prescription Lens Carriers (UPLCs)
In the past, warfighters who require prescription lenses for their MCEP had to also possess the appropriate Prescription Lens Carrier for their specific spectacle or goggle. This created a logistic issue in maintaining supplies of all of these inserts and made it that warfighters had to know what MCEP devices they were going to be issued often before they were actually issued them. As a result, the requirement for a UPLC was implemented. UPLCs are categorizes as a medical item so warriors who require a prescription must obtain their prescription
insert for their device through their garrison optometry clinic, deployed
optometry clinic, or medical support section. Deployed Soldiers may also obtain
a replacement prescription through the Government Eyewear System (G-Eyes) they need to be ordered from an eye clinic. Also, all inserts are required to be made with polycarbonate lenses - providing additional safety for the warfighter. Note that not all MCEP items are capable of utilizing the UPLC. When supplying someone who requires MCEP and needs prescription eyewear, make certain that the devices are UPLC compatible by checking the most recent APEL.
To view the current list of available spectacles and goggles on the APEL, including identification of those that are UPLC compatible, and for additional information regarding specifications and how units can order them, go to APEL . If you click on one of the devices, it will take you to a page with all of the information about the specific item. Individuals can purchase them on their own at Military Clothing and Sales Stores and Post Exchanges. If purchasing for yourself, make certain that the item is (1) an approved item (it will have the APEL logo on the box and (2) that your unit allows you to utilize the particular device. Note that ALARACT 209/2009 states that the purchase of these items from other sources is not authorized. There is also a poster that is available for downloading at APEL Poster .
It is important to note that all APEL MCEP items do meet ANSI Z87.1 standards so they can be utilized if necessary for those tasks requiring that type of eye protection but are not meant to be a substitute for all types of eye protection for all tasks such as the need to where goggles during refueling operations. As stated, utilize risk management procedures to determine how to best protect the eyes for those types of operations.
Service Specific Requirements
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 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: 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 and the ESS Profile NVG.
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).
Deployed DoD Civilians: DODI 1400.32 DOD CIVILIAN WORK FORCE CONTINGENCY AND EMERGENCY PLANNING GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES states:
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.
The M50 Series protective mask along with the M51 variant is officially known as the Joint Service General Protective Mask (JSGPM) and replaced the M40 and M42, MCU-2/P series masks and the M45 of the Land Warrior Program. It is a respirator that protects against CB agents, toxins, toxic industrial materials and radioactive particulate matter. it is not effective against industrial gases such as ammonia or carbon dioxide and is not effective in confined spaces, where the oxygen content of the air may be low. For prescriptive lenses, the M50 is not UPLC compatible and requires the use of the M-50 vision correction assembly pictured to the right. Available for the mask are clear outserts that protect the mask's visor and is designed to provide additional protection from high velocity projectiles. It is recommended that the outsert be utilized whenever feasible.
Ordering Military Eyewear
DoD has been producing eyewear for service members and retirees since World War II. Today, as part of the Optical Fabrication Enterprise (OFE), Army and Navy optical fabrication labs around the world fabricate over 1.2 million pairs of eyewear for eligible beneficiaries each year. The purpose
of the OFE is to coordinate and foster cooperation between the three Services to realize the greatest speed and value
for optical fabrication. The Navy is the lead Service for optical fabrication, and the Navy Surgeon General has
designated the Commanding Officer of the Naval Ophthalmic Support and Training Activity (NOSTRA) as the
Program Executor. The OFE Executor is advised by the Optical Fabrication Advisory Board (OFAB).
The OFAB is chaired by the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, U.S. Army Medical Department. Voting members of the OFAB include the chair, optometry consultants from the Army, Navy,
and Air Force, and the lead enlisted opticians from the Army and Navy. Additional Tri-Service clinicians, opticians,
and other support staff are determined as needed by the voting members. The OFAB provides Tri-Service advice and
direction from the ophthalmic functional community and reviews all aspects of optical
fabrication across the DoD and works in concert with the OFE to continually improve the processes and products of
For information on how to order eyewear, go to the NOSTRA Ordering Optical Products webpage. this site has information regarding eligibility and how to order your eyewear no matter where you are located.
For information regarding DoD Optical Fabrication and NOSTRA go to the NOSTRA Home Page.
To learn more about the processes involved in the fabrication process at NOSTRA view the NOSTRAmovie.
Finally, for additional information on setting up accounts, ordering eyewear from military treatment facilities or while in remote locations, or for answers regarding any other questions you may have, feel free to contact the NOSTRA Customer Service Department from 0630 to 1530 EST. Feel free to leave call them at (757) 887-7600 option 1 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, if you have any additional questions, feel free to CONTACT US.
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