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Effective Eyewear

Sunglasses can’t compare to quality ballistic glasses for protecting your sight from flying shrapnel, liquids, and UV rays.

July 22, 2009  |  by Scott Smith - Also by this author

Prescription Compatibility

One feature I personally look for in protective eyewear is whether the glasses are prescription lens compatible. Being optically challenged, I need eyewear that can accept a prescription insert or optical lenses mounted to the frames so I can have the advantage of various lens colors for changing lighting.

Top players that meet this requirement are Wiley-X, Rudy Project, Revision, and SunBuster. You can have prescriptions ground into shields for some companies' glasses, but it gets pricey. It's a personal preference, but I prefer the second line of protection provided by a prescription insert lens, just in case something shatters the outer shield.


When it comes to duty optics there is only one specialty optic; goggles. While not something many of us will use on duty, those who wear them need to have an idea of what's out there. Blackhawk, Revision, Wiley-X, Oakley, and ESS offer numerous models of goggles. These can be the large ski type goggles or more streamlined conformal ones.

The only goggles I have worn are Ant from Revision and the CQC from Wiley-X because they accept a prescription insert. Both pairs are comfortable and fit close to the face. And for goggles they look good.

Quality goggles all have a couple features that the GI sand goggles of my youth didn't. The first is they have air vents so the lenses don't fog up when it's humid. These vents have some type of a mesh to keep out dirt and sand if they are for use in that environment. Others will have slits, which create a cross draft to keep the lens clear.

Some goggles offer tearoffs so you can simply rip one layer off and have a clear lens should the outer layer get dirty or scratched. Most quality tactical goggles have interchangeable shields so you can use them in a variety of light conditions. This also allows you to easily replace one shield without forking over the bucks for a whole new set of goggles.

You will find goggles for general eye protection, use in boat operations and other aquatic applications, chemical environments, when using pyrotechnics/explosives, etc. Goggles will offer you enhanced protection over your daily ballistic eyewear for those times when things really go south or can go that way rapidly.

All quality protective eyewear, be it glasses or goggles, are designed to protect one of your most fragile tools: your eyes. They are built to keep your eyes working when things go to hell around you. If you buy quality optics designed for the purpose of protecting your eyes from UV rays as well as flying objects, you will not be sorry. The cost of the eyewear compared to being blind or visually impaired is minimal because they will serve you for many moons, unless they are broken.

Don't scrimp on something to protect such a valuable item as your sight. Be safe, and protect yourself always.

Scott Smith is a former federal police officer for the Department of Veteran's Affairs and a contributing editor to POLICE.

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Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Mary Padron @ 6/26/2012 7:11 AM

Mr. Smith knows what he is talking about. And I just wanted to say that we appreciate his including Radians as one of the manufacturers of quality eyewear.

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