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Aviat Space Environ Med. 2013 Aug;84(8):814-22.

Military aircrew eyewear survey: operational issues.

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  • 1U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory, Fort Rucker, AL, USA.



Army aircrew are required to operate under stressful conditions within a degraded visual environment. To gain an understanding of current eyewear mission needs, we surveyed aircrew regarding operational issues associated with the current U.S. Army-issue aircrew eyewear.


An anonymous online survey was completed by 976 U.S. Army aircrew personnel recruited through an invitational e-mail.


Of the respondents, 34% reported wearing corrective lenses. Nearly 50% of them reported dissatisfaction with the HGU-4/P Aviator spectacles. The leading problems reported were discomfort (15%), "hot spots" around the ears (13%), and break of the earcup seal (11%). Nearly 41% of the respondents wore multifocal lenses and, of those, 16% reported that the HGU-4/P's restricted field of view (FOV) adversely affected duty performance. Of those who wore Modified HGU-4/P Apache spectacles, 79% had an unacceptable FOV with the helmet display unit. A similar number of aircrew modified the Apache eyewear to increase the FOV. In addition, wind and dust created eye discomfort or affected the vision of 46% of all respondents when performing flight duties. Over 82% expressed the need for an improved aircrew spectacles and 73% desired aviation-compatible protective eyewear.


The current Army HGU-4/P Aviator and the Modified HGU-4/P Apache spectacles have significant operational deficiencies and compatibility issues. Such deficiencies have led to poor wear compliance and unauthorized modification of the Army-issue Aviator eyewear, posing readiness and safety issues. The results of this survey formally identify the need for military combat eye protection that is compatible with flight systems.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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