Overview of U.S. Military Eyewear Regulations

As a soldier, your vision and eye protection are critical to mission success and personal safety. You know first-hand how demanding your role is on your eyesight while operating vehicles, handling weapons, and serving in extreme environments. The military holds your eyewear to rigorous standards to ensure quality protection. Learn about the specific regulations that shape your issued glasses and goggles to meet intense performance requirements. Discover how standards are set and manufacturers ensure compliance through extensive testing. Understand the constraints these specifications place on designing military eyewear while optimizing impact resistance, optical clarity, and durability. Appreciate how regulations safeguard your vision during training, deployment, and duty through certified protective eyewear.

International Eyewear Standards for Military Use

ANSI Z87.1 Standards

The ANSI Z87.1 standard establishes the minimum requirements for impact resistance, marking, testing, and certification of eyewear used in occupational and educational settings. All protective eyewear issued to U.S. military personnel must meet or exceed the high impact Z87.1 standard to ensure maximum eye protection from ballistic fragments and other airborne debris.

ANSI Z87.1+

MIL-PRF-31013 Standards

Military Performance Specification 31013 outlines the minimum performance requirements for eyewear used in military applications, including impact and ballistic resistance, optical clarity, and durability. Eyewear that meets the MIL-PRF-31013 standard is tested and certified to withstand the rigors of combat and provide comprehensive eye protection for service members.


Additional Standards

The U.S. military also requires eyewear to meet standards for resistance to environmental conditions like salt fog, humidity, and extreme temperatures. Eyewear must be tested in accordance with methods outlined in MIL-STD-810, a series of durability and reliability tests for equipment used in harsh conditions. These standards help ensure eyewear can withstand challenging environments without compromising performance or protection.

Certification and Compliance

All eyewear used in U.S. military applications must be certified as compliant with the appropriate military standards. Third-party testing facilities evaluate eyewear samples to verify they meet the minimum requirements for performance, durability, and safety. Only eyewear models that pass certification testing are approved for procurement and issue to service members. Compliance with military eyewear standards is critical to ensuring the safety, performance, and combat readiness of U.S. forces.

APEL Certification: Ensuring Quality Eye Protection

ANSI Z87.1-2015 Standards

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87.1-2015 standard establishes minimum requirements for eyewear used in occupational and educational environments, including impact resistance and durability. Eyewear meeting this standard provides impact protection for both high- and low-energy impacts. All military eyewear must meet or exceed this standard to ensure soldier safety.

MIL-PRF-32432 Performance Standards

MIL-PRF-32432 is a U.S. military performance standard that provides more stringent requirements for impact, durability and optical performance compared to commercial standards. Eyewear meeting this standard must withstand high-mass and high-velocity impacts to protect against ballistic threats. Additional requirements include resistance to chemical and environmental exposure as well as enhanced optical performance for target detection and identification.

Ballistic Eyewear Certification

Ballistic eyewear designed for military use must meet certification requirements for impact resistance based on projectile type and velocity. For example, eyewear may be certified to meet a minimum V50 ballistic limit for a .15 caliber, 5.8 grain projectile at 650-670 feet per second to provide fragmentation protection. Higher certification levels require withstanding impacts from higher energy projectiles. Eyewear meeting these certifications helps ensure maximum protection and performance under ballistic threat conditions.

Rigorous testing and certification processes are essential for developing military eyewear that complies with occupational health and safety regulations as well as mission-specific performance requirements. By meeting and exceeding established standards, military eyewear can deliver the advanced protection and capabilities necessary for soldier safety and effectiveness.

Designing Military Glasses to Meet Safety Standards

To ensure military eyewear meets the highest standards for impact resistance and optical clarity, the U.S. Armed Forces rely on the Ballistic and Laser Protective Eyewear Certification Program (APEL). This program puts eyewear through rigorous testing to certify compliance with MIL-PRF-32432, the U.S. military performance specification for protective eyewear.

Impact Testing

APEL impact testing ensures eyewear can withstand the force of an object traveling at high velocity. Eyewear is struck with a 6.35mm steel ball bearing at different angles and speeds to simulate debris and shrapnel impacts in combat. To pass, the eyewear must prevent the projectile from penetrating the lens and stop it within 5mm of the point of impact.

Optical Testing

APEL also evaluates how well the eyewear transmits light to maintain visual acuity and target detection. Using a collimator to simulate long distance viewing, the eyewear must have a minimum resolution of 20/40 to be certified. Additional tests check for optical distortions that could impede a soldier’s vision during activity.

Certification Process

Manufacturers submit eyewear models to an APEL testing facility, where samples undergo a minimum of four impact and two optical tests. If the eyewear passes all tests, the model is certified as APEL-approved and authorized for use by U.S. military personnel in training and combat operations. APEL certification is required for all military ballistic eyewear and ensures soldiers receive protective eyewear that meets the highest standards for vision, safety and performance.

By setting stringent standards for impact resistance, optical clarity and product quality, the APEL certification program helps equip soldiers with eyewear engineered to maximize protection and vision on the battlefield. Compliance with APEL requirements drives continual innovation in eyewear design and helps set the bar for performance and safety in military optics.

Frequently Asked Questions About Army Eyepro Regulations

As a manufacturer of military eyewear, you must ensure your products meet or exceed the rigorous safety standards set by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to protect service members. The DoD references military standard MIL-PRF-31013, which details the performance and testing requirements for ballistic eyewear, including impact resistance, coverage, and durability.

Impact Resistance

Military eyewear must withstand high-mass impacts to shield eyes from debris. DoD standards mandate lenses withstand a minimum of three impacts from a 0.15-caliber, T37 shaped projectile traveling at 640 to 660 feet per second with no penetration. Frames and lenses are tested by independent laboratories to certify they meet impact requirements.

Optical Performance

In addition to impact resistance, military eyewear must provide optical clarity and visual acuity for service members to perform duties effectively. Lenses are tested to meet standards for resolution, distortion, and clarity. Anti-fog and anti-scratch coatings are often applied to enhance optical performance in demanding environmental conditions.

Coverage and Fit

DoD standards specify minimum coverage areas for military eyewear to shield eyes, eye sockets, and surrounding facial areas. Glasses are designed to fit securely and comfortably for long periods, with adjustable components to accommodate a range of head shapes and sizes. Proper coverage and fit are evaluated through wearer trials and feedback.

Compliance with DoD standards for impact resistance, optical performance, coverage, and fit help ensure military eyewear provides maximum protection and functionality for service members operating in hazardous conditions. Rigorous testing by independent laboratories certifies products meet strict military requirements prior to fielding. Overall, military eyewear standards drive designs that balance impact resistance, visual acuity, and soldier comfort to optimize safety, effectiveness, and mission readiness.

Roger Sarkis