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The Military Eye Protection. (News).

THE MILITARY EYE PROTECTION System (MEPS) will soon replace an assortment of protective eyewear.

Since the mid-1990s, the Army and the Marine Corps have used a combination of ballistic/laser protective spectacles (BLPSs), special protective eyewear, cylindrical system (SPECS), and sun, wind, and dust goggles (SWDGs) to shield troops from eye injury.

With the new protective gear, the number of lenses is cut in half, and the level of protection is increased. Troops will have one system in sleek goggles or spectacles, with interchangeable lenses for both.

The new protection system carries over the lightweight but tough polycarbonate used in these earlier spectacles and goggles that passed tests for ballistic resistance. The new spectacles add peripheral coverage that was limited with the SPECS. Like SPECS and BLPS, they also meet the American National Standards Institute requirements for occupational eye and face protection.

BLPS, SPECS, and SWDG use four lenses designed for each item: clear, sunglass, three-line laser protective, and two-line laser protective. When lasers are not a hazard, soldiers can use the clear lens to protect against ballistic and ultraviolet rays day or night. Or they can use a darkened sunglass lens with added glare protection during the day.

When lasers are a danger, soldiers currently switch to a green lens that blocks two wavelengths for use in dim light, or a dark lens that shields three wavelengths for use in daylight. Special coloring and coatings absorb the laser to minimize or eliminate injuries.

For durability, the new system uses two types of laser reflective materials sandwiched between two layers of polycarbonate. It also covers a wider band of near-infrared wavelength energy than the current systems. Separate daytime and nighttime lenses have been eliminated.

Natick is looking at blocking broad bands of laser while minimizing the effect on color vision. This color vision is critical to the soldier's ability to read maps and use such devices as image intensifiers. Also being considered are better light transmission and, ultimately, tunable laser protection that adjusts to the hazard.

Other improvements are in fit, comfort, and logistical efficiency. The BLPS was designed to accommodate wearers of prescription eyeglasses. They were all in one size and difficult to fit the entire user population. SPECS come in two sizes for more precise fit, but they can be worn only by soldiers with normal vision. Military-issued eyeglasses fit inside the SWDG, but often with just enough room.

The new system can be worn by anyone and comes in two spectacle sizes for an improved fit while retaining a single size for the goggles. A prescription lens carrier snaps into the goggles and spectacle frames if needed.

Clear, sunglass, and laser lenses, all with ballistic protection, are interchangeable between the large spectacles and goggles for simpler supply and storage. Spectacles or goggles, along with two extra lenses, are stored and carried in a rigid foam case with a green cloth cover.

The goggles are easy to tighten, or to loosen so they can fall to the chest--a feature important to a gunner looking through a vehicle's internal sights. The currently used goggles have a simple elastic strap and are stowed on the helmet, where they interfere with the proper use of the sighting system in a fighting vehicle or tank.

Goggles are undergoing user evaluation at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in California; and both goggle and spectacle prototypes are being evaluated at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Fielding is expected to begin in 2005.
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Title Annotation:new eyewear for the troops
Publication:Infantry Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2002
Previous Article:Letters.
Next Article:Precision Aerial Delivery. (News).

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