APEL – Updated eyewear list helps keep Soldiers protected; New transition eyewear available

Every two years, Product Manager Soldier Protective Equipment (PM SPE) at Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier publishes the Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL) to inform Soldiers about protective eyewear products that are authorized for use.

“Officials test every piece of APEL-approved eyewear to ensure it provides Soldiers and other service members the right amount of protection,” said Cpt. Alan Chartier, assistant product manager of Head Protection at PM SPE. “If eyewear does not carry the APEL logo, it is unauthorized and unsafe to wear.”

All products listed on the APEL have undergone rigorous laboratory and user testing to meet military requirements stated in the Military Performance Standard, MILPRF-32432A, titled Military Combat Eye Protection (MCEP) System. Deploying Soldiers are issued MCEP through Rapid Fielding Initiative and will only receive products that are compatible with the Universal Prescription Lens Carrier.

Soldiers can buy approved eyewear at the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) and through participating vendors. Central Issue Facilities and individual units are authorized to purchase and issue any item on the APEL.

“Products in AAFES stores with the APEL green sticker that are dated March 2019 or earlier are still valid APEL items and may be used for ballistics fragmentation

The new TCEP, featured above in the total Soldier Protection System, is a new addition to the 2019 Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL).

protection,” said Chartier. “The date stamp is on the lens of the eyewear and is a two-digit month followed by a four-digit year (032019).”

The 2019 APEL authorizes four new spectacles and five new goggles while also adding two new capabilities for eye protection. Style T (Transition Combat Eye Protection or TCEP) eyewear features transition lenses that change from dark to light and vice versa (in one second or less) in order to accommodate changing light conditions. Style C (Cold Weather Goggle) features improved fog resistance for extended operations in extreme cold weather environments.

The TCEP was created as a component of the Soldier Protection System. It provides increased ballistic protection over currently fielded eyewear and allows the Soldier to operate in changing light conditions without having to replace lenses or remove the eyewear.

A Soldier tries on the Transition Combat Eye Protection (TCEP) which provides increased ballistic protection and allows Soldiers to operate in changing light conditions. The new TCEP is featured on the 2019 Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL). The APEL is published every two years by Program Executive Office Soldier to inform Soldiers about protective eyewear products that are authorized for use.

While many transition lenses currently exist on the market, they only have two primary disadvantages for Soldiers on the battlefield. First, their transition time takes 5-10 minutes, which is not fast enough to keep up with the pace of kinetic operations, Chartier said. Secondly, they transition based on UV exposure, which means the lenses will not darken if worn in a vehicle even in full daylight.

“TCEP features an electronically driven transition lens that solves both of these issues,” said Chartier. “TCEP’s transition time is 200 milliseconds which is approximately the time it takes for an eye to blink. Additionally, TCEP’s ambient light sensors function on visible light instead of UV, so TCEP will have no issues transitioning inside a vehicle if the light is bright enough.”

As part of the updated APEL, the TCEP is now available to all Soldiers and units who wish to purchase it. The eyewear has already been issued to Soldiers in limited quantities.

All products from the previous APEL remain on the list except the: ESS Crosshair Spectacle, Revision ExoShield Spectacle, Wiley X Talon, ESS Land Ops Goggle, ESS Profile NVG Goggle, Oakley SI Goggle 1.0, Revision Bullet Ant Goggle, and Revision WolfSpider Goggle.

The MCEP program has multi-service involvement, and other services use items from the APEL. Eyewear can meet American National Standards Institute standards and still not measure up for military use.

“It does not matter what protection an eyewear manufacturer claims, who makes the eyewear, or if the Exchange/Military Clothing Sales Stores sell the eyewear,” said Chartier. “What matters is that the eyewear is APEL-approved for Soldiers to wear it. All products on the updated APEL meet improved ballistic protection over currently fielded eye protection, and users should replace unserviceable items with a spectacle or goggle from the updated list of protective eyewear.”

For more information and to view the APEL, visit the PEO Soldier website.


About Alton Stewart

Alton Stewart is the Acting Director of Public Affairs for PEO Soldier. An Army veteran of the Gulf War, he has been with PEO Soldier since 2003.