The Army's Authorized Protective Eyewear List, commonly called the APEL list, helps soldiers find a medium between Army Regulation 670-1 and current safety standards. The APEL list features several types of approved ballistic eyewear authorized by the Department of the Army and falls under the appropriate wear of the uniform. According to AR 670-1, "faddish or trendy" eyewear, eyewear with apparent brand logos and non-ballistic eyewear is never on the APEL list. TheArmy periodically reviews and updates the APEL, so check with your chain of command for addenda to the policy before purchasing eyewear to use while in uniform.
APEL-approved eyewear must meet Army safety standards. Ballistic eyewear must protect the wearer's eyes from shrapnel, bullet shavings and other impact hazards. The minimum lens thickness available, according to Department of the Army Pamphlet 40-506, is 3mm. The Army determines lens safety by conducting tests on all APEL-approved eyewear; one test includes the projection of a 0.25-inch steel ball at a speed of 150 feet per second. The Army allows prescription lenses if they meet the Army's ballistic standards.
Every piece of eyewear on the APEL list must adhere to Army Regulation 670-1, "Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia." AR 670-1 states that soldiers must wear sunglasses with gray, dark green or brown. The Army doesn't authorize mirrored lenses. Only eyewear considered conservative by a unit commander is permitted. The Army doesn't authorize eyewear frames that could be considered trendy for prescription glasses or sunglasses. Glasses and sunglasses can not be placed on the head or uniform when not being worn.
Up to 10 percent of injured soldiers sustain eye injuries, although some eye injuries do occur when the soldier fails to wear eye protection. The Department of the Army periodically reviews the APEL list to assess whether the eyewear listed meets current safety requirements. You can find the most current APEL list on the Program Executive Office Soldier website at PEOSoldier.Army.mil. Supply sergeants can order items on the APEL list with unit approval, or soldiers may purchase their own APEL-approved eyewear commercially.
Requirements for Wear
Each Army unit may determine its own standards for the frequency of wear of APEL-approved eye protection. For example, deployed units may require APEL-approved eyewear be worn at all times when soldiers are outside of their living quarters. Garrison-based units may prohibit wearing sunglasses, APEL-approved or not, during the regular workday when they don't need glasses for ballistic protection.
According to AR 670-1, only prescription glasses may be worn indoors or in military formations unless the eye protection is medically necessary; however, commanders may authorize them on a case-by-case basis.
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