Army Authorized Sunglasses: What Every Soldier Should Know

Times have changed in the Army with eye wear. In the early 1980’s, when I was serving, eyeglasses were black framed, ugly creatures. Every soldier I know tried their hardest to pass eye exams just so they would not have to wear them. Well, I did. When it came to sunglasses, for the most part, they were not allowed unless we were in situations that called for them, and there were few choices. You got what the United States Army gave you.

For many people, sunglasses are a way of life. You will see sunglasses in various colors, both with the frames and the lenses. So are soldiers allowed to wear those fancy Gucci sunglasses that cost them a week’s pay?

In today’s post, we are going to talk about Army authorized sunglasses and what every soldier should know. After all, it is much better to read it here and get it right than to have you First Sergeant ream your donkey. First, let’s look at regulations.

Sunglasses for use in the army are restricted by a number of rules and regulations specified by the authorities, which prohibit the use of regular eyewear during service. The authorities have identified the specifications and stipulations which need to be adhered to in order to ensure that an officer uses sunglasses which are in accordance with the rules. ~ Shades Daddy Blog

Army Authorized Sunglasses

Army Regulation 670-1

If you do not have your copy of Army Regulation 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia, you can download a copy online. In Chapter 3 section 10 (page 15), you will find the information about eyeglasses, sunglasses and contact lenses. Notice what it says immediately: Soldiers can be punished in regards to not following these regulations by adverse administrative action, or charges under provisions of the UCMJ. I suggest you adhere to these rules. I am quoting them exactly how they are in the regulations:

(2) Conservative prescription and nonprescription sunglasses are authorized for wear when in a garrison environment, except while indoors. Individuals who are required by medical authority to wear sunglasses for medical reasons, other than refractive error, may wear them, except when health or safety considerations apply. Commanders may authorize sunglasses in formations or field environments, as appropriate.

(3) Eyeglasses or sunglasses that are trendy or have lenses or frames with conspicuous initials, designs, or other adornments are not authorized for wear. Soldiers may not wear lenses with extreme or trendy colors, which include, but are not limited to, red, yellow, blue, purple, bright green, or orange. Lens colors must be traditional gray, brown, or dark green shades. Personnel will not wear lenses or frames that are so large or so small that they detract from the appearance of the uniform. Personnel will not attach chains or ribbons to eyeglasses. Eyeglass restraints (to include bands) are authorized when required for safety purposes. Personnel will not hang eyeglasses or eyeglass cases on the uniform and may not let glasses hang from eyeglass restraints down the front of the uniform. Glasses may not be worn on top of the head at any time.

(4) Soldiers are authorized to wear ballistic spectacle eye protection issued by the Army, including lens colors or logos that do not comply with paragraph 3–10 a (3), above, in garrison or field environments unless otherwise directed by their chain of command. See the Army Combat Readiness Center for a list of currently approved protective eyewear.

#4 opened the door up for soldiers as long as their Commanders allow. The key to it all is wearing ballistic approved sunglasses.

How Sunglasses Are Approved

The United States Army noticed that a large amount of injuries are to the eye area of soldiers. While the civilian world has standards which are under ANSI Z87.1, the military has much stricter standards. The military standard is MIL-PRF-31013 and what it entails for sunglasses to be approved is:

  • withstand .15 caliber, 5.8 grain projectile at a velocity of 660 feet per second
  • goggles must withstand a 17 grain projectile at a velocity of 550 feet per second

So how does the Army measure these standards?

The offices of PEO Soldier are in charge of measuring these standards and supplying a list of approved eye wear. Using a simulation head, the eye wear is put on it with a sheet of aluminum foil put between the head and the glasses. The projectile is fired just slightly off center of the lens and if the aluminum is not punctured and the lenses do not crack or break, the eye wear can be approved for soldier wear. It is put on the Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL). Some of these can be used with prescription lenses.

APEL is a listing published by PEO Soldier of all eyewear products approved for military use by the MCEPP-IPT. All APEL items must be labeled on the packaging and frame with “APEL,” which indicates the product is on the APEL. Anyone purchasing their own MCEP should look for this label. Only eyewear on the APEL has been validated against Army requirements for protection against ballistic fragments. Eyewear not on the APEL is not authorized for wear during combat or training or even when there is a risk of eye injury. ~ Safety Glasses USA

Army Authorized Sunglasses

Approved Eye Wear

Soldiers have a wide variety of choices for approved eye wear. As a Commander or Leader, you can help your soldiers know what is available by downloading and printing this APEL poster from this link.

Universal Prescription Lens Carrier Compatible

These are the eye wear that can use a prescription lens or a regular lens:

  • ESS Crossbow
  • ESS Crosshair
  • ESS Influx goggles
  • ESS Profile NVG goggles
  • Honeywell XMF goggles
  • Oakley S1 Ballistic 1.0 goggles
  • Oakley S1 Ballistic 2.0 goggles
  • Revision Bullet ANT goggles
  • Revision Desert Locust goggles
  • Revision Sawfly
  • Revision Stingerhawk
  • Revision Wolfspider goggles
  • Smith Optics AEGIS
  • Smith Optics Outside The Wire goggles
  • Wiley X Spear goggles
  • Wiley X Talon
  • Wiley X Vapor

Non-Prescription Availability Approved Eye Wear

These are models that have passed military approval, but do not have prescription lens availability:

  • 3M Maxim
  • Arena Flakjak goggles
  • ESS Land Ops goggles
  • ESS Rollbar
  • Honeywell Genesis
  • Honeywell XC
  • Oakley S1 Ballistic M Frame 2.0
  • Oakley S1 Ballistic M Frame 3.0
  • Oakley Racing Jacket
  • Revision Exoshield
  • Smith Optics Boogie
  • Smith Optics Lopro goggles
  • Wiley X Nerve goggles
  • Wiley X Valor

Keep in mind that only clear and neutral grey sun glass lenses are approved. Yellow lenses are deceptive to color perception.

Final Thoughts

I must admit that I began laughing when I viewed a few forums where soldiers were whining about the choices they have. Maybe the Army needs to develop a time machine and send some of these whiners back to the era when we had to wear the eye wear pictured.

Quit crying and realize that you have a great selection of eye wear. Leave your Gucci’s in the case until you are in your civilian clothes.

So let’s hear your thoughts and opinions. What do you think on the subject of Army authorized sunglasses and eye wear? Leave your comments and questions below, and thanks for visiting.

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chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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