The ANSI Z80.3-2001 standard is applied to consumer (non-prescription) eyewear, and includes an impact resistance test mandated by the FDA. The test requires that the basic lens design must successfully resist the drop of a steel ball at 50 inches under certain laboratory conditions. The lens must also allow the user to discern certain colors, specifically traffic signals and devices, optical correctness and fire resistance.
The impact test for protective eyewear most used in the policing industry is ANSI Z87, which has more stringent requirements than ANSI Z80.3-2001. We found that tactical eyewear companies like Wiley-X Inc., Oakley, ESS, Revision, Paulson Manufacturing and Rudy Project proudly display their "crash test" ratings; consumers don't have to search for them. ANSI Z87 ratings also include requirements for the quality of the lens, its ability to be disinfected and its optical clarity.
Tactical situations call for goggles or frames that flex with the lens, without coming apart. For Bobster Eyewear, a company that has a lot of experience in the motorcycle eyewear industry, designing tactical eyewear is a natural transition. The Bobster Prowler has closed cell foam around the edge like goggles but convertible ear pieces that turn goggles into sunglasses.
Other goggles that really grabbed testers' attention were the Advancer and the Profile Turbofan from ESS. The former has click open lenses for ventilation, and the latter has a quiet two-speed fan that can run 150 hours on an AA battery.
Although OSHA only requires ANSI Z87.1-1989 (OSHA 1910.133(b)) for environments that are potentially injurious to eyes, most tactical glasses meet or exceed the ANSI Z87.1-2003 standard, which has a few additional hurdles. If the ANSI Z87.1-2003 has a plus sign at the end (ANSI Z87.1-2003 +), the product is designated as high impact. Although the 2003 standard is voluntary at this time, most tactical eyewear manufacturers seek this certification. In fact, All ESS eyewear tested met the ANSI Z87.1-2003 and U.S. Military MIL-PRF-31013 .15-caliber ballistic impact test, and most ESS eyewear we tested met the higher MIL-V-4351C .22-caliber ballistic impact test — a test where projectiles are fired at the lens.
No one would go as far as saying that some eyewear will stop bullets. They won't. However, the testimonial from folks in the field surviving shrapnel and secondary projectiles speaks for itself.Fitting prescription lenses
Prescription wearers have to make some decisions when it comes to tactical eyewear. For example, if the officer is wearing prescription sunglasses for patrol, what does he do when entering a dark building? There are several options, depending on the strength of the prescription. However, the officers should always carry a spare pair of glasses with clear lenses in their shirt pocket.
When officers go in for a prescription, it is important that they tell — or show — the optometrist what kind of glasses they intend to wear. This will ensure that the best part of the lens is in the center of the wearer's vision. Prescription inserts ride a little higher on the nose bridge and are suspended between the protective lens and the officer's eyes.
It is also important that officers receive regular eye exams. If a prescription is old or inaccurate, it can cause eye fatigue, migraines and other problems..
One choice for prescription eyewear is the Rudy Project EKYNOX SX. Some of Rudy's models have flip-up lenses for eyeglasses. Testers especially liked the EKYNOX SX with photochromic red IMPACT X lenses. They gave a high contrast view at dusk and a protective smoke in bright light.
Officers who opt to use the prescription lens carrier that goes between the eyes and the outside lens should spend a few extra dollars and have an anti-reflective coating placed on the prescription lenses. This will help vision at night.Don't buy cheap sunglasses
Most eye specialists recommend at least 98-percent UV protection for any sunglass. Polycarbonate lenses naturally provide 100-percent protection. It is better to wear sunglasses in the bright sunlight than to have unprotected eyes in the shade. They are even effective for contact lens wearers who have UV protective contacts.