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Looking Forward
Exclusive Report & Pictures by Bob Morrison

Observant visitors to the PECOC (Personal Equipment and Common Operational Clothing programme) Team’s stand at the 2010 Defence Vehicle Dynamics expo would have noticed that the soldier demonstrating examples of kit under evaluation was wearing slightly familiar low impact protective eyewear but with vermillion (reddish orange) lenses under the new full face style of helmet. The items displayed were purely intended to show future concepts and had not yet been procured for general issue to HM Forces at the time, but the eyewear modelled was actually on issue to NATO troops in Afghanistan and shortly after the show Canadian manufacturers Revision Military Ltd. sent us samples for review.
Turn back the clock a decade and protective eyewear for soldiers was not only unfashionable but, pretty much with the exception of dust goggles for those driving or commanding open-topped vehicles, was really only worn by highly specialist troops. In the civilian world, on the other hand, the wearing of protective eyewear in factories and other workplaces where eyesight might be at risk has been commonplace for many years and few workers these days would dream of stepping onto the workshop floor without their impact resistant spectacles.

This writer has personal experience of how an eye injury, suffered in a freak workplace accident when a teenager, can totally alter one’s life and career so has never seen the introduction of Health & Safety regulations forcing the wearing of eye protection as being a major issue.

Indeed twenty years ago, almost to the day, when heading off with cameras to the Persian Gulf in the run-up to the 1991 Gulf War yours truly had the foresight to take polycarbonate lens snow goggles, to both compensate for the bright desert light and provide a degree of ocular protection from windblown detritus.

Wearing blue and pink ski goggles with a locally procured red and white shemagh may have looked a bit silly, but when the rest of the media pack was choked and blinded by dust and grit, guess who was totally unaffected. What is that old military maxim? Any mug can be uncomfortable!

We don’t plan to cover old ground again, as last time Battlespace undertook an in-depth reviews of ballistic eye protection we looked at the US military studies on eye injuries in the opening stages of the recent Iraq conflict, but it is worth repeating that American soldiers are now issued with polycarbonate lens eyewear during basic training and are encouraged to wear it at all times from that point on when on exercise, manoeuvres or operational deployments. It is hoped that by indoctrinating them from the very start, the wearing of polycarbonate lenses will become as second nature as wearing hard hats on building sites is to construction workers or fastening seatbelts has become to present generation European drivers.

To quote directly from the Revision Military Ltd. product range catalogue: “In today’s warfare of IEDs, lasers, urban battlefields and close quarters combat, eye injuries are a significant and costly threat. A soldier who can’t see is a soldier who can’t fight.” They say that ninety percent of eye injuries are preventable with the right eyewear and Revision, like many of their competitors, are constantly working at improving their range based both on lessons learnt by those wearing them in the field and through on-going experimentation.

If you don’t believe that eye protection is important just think what it feels like when a sudden gust of wind blows grit in your eye, maybe even just while on the beach or tabbing / yomping over a dusty training area. No matter how tough you might be, that little fleck of dirt will probably have your eye streaming like a baby’s for several seconds and you most likely won’t be able to focus on anything through the tears and blinking. Now imaging that this happens not to one eye but to both

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