The Military Combat Eye Protection Program (MCEPP) was established to validate and authorize protective eyewear for use by military personnel, and it works to improve soldier acceptance of authorized protective eyewear thus reducing the likelihood of eye injury to soldiers. MCEPP comes under the umbrella of Program Executive Officer Soldier (PEO Soldier). PEO Soldier “designs, develops, procures, fields and sustains virtually everything the soldier wears or carries.”
The Army’s MCEPP program offers protection to soldiers’ eyes from ballistic fragments by allowing soldiers to choose their own approved eyewear. As more options are provided to soldiers, MCEPP hopes to increase the number of soldiers who wear protective eyewear thus reducing the number of eye injuries sustained by soldiers in training as well as in combat.
All approved military eyewear should meet or exceed protective standards established by the Integrative Protective Team (IPT). The IPT is a committee appointed by PEO Soldier to validate safety standards and test protocols and to approve new products for the Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL).
Commercial eyewear products are put through a rigorous testing procedure to determine their ability to withstand ballistic fragments such as rock, glass and shrapnel in both a laboratory and a field environment. Eyewear that passes these tests is included on the APEL, which is updated twice a year.
APEL is a listing published by PEO Soldier of all eyewear products that have been approved for military use by the MCEPP-IPT. All APEL items must be marked with a sticker on the packaging stating that the product is on the APEL. Anyone purchasing their own MCEP should look for this sticker. 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.
Products on the APEL are tested every two years and routinely sampled for compliance. APEL items with changes in the design or fabrication process require immediate retesting, and items can be placed on suspension resulting in recertification needed to get back on the list.
The APEL is published on the following website:
Sunglasses and goggles from a variety of makers such as ESS, Oakley, Revision, Uvex, Wiley-X and Arena have all made the APEL. Currently, MCEPP is working with vendors to make improvements in eyewear for soldiers. Improvements needed include better scratch, fog and impact protection as well as protection against exposure to contaminants such as bleach and dirt. In addition, new goggle colors, universal prescription inserts and agile laser protection are on the list of future interests for MCEPP.