According to senior IDF Medical Corps officer Lt.-Colonel Alon Glassberg, eye injuries in the IDF are about 20 times higher than in other western militaries. As a result, the IDF put in an emergency order and purchased 40,000 pairs of protective eyeglasses as the call up of soldiers for Operation Pillar of Defense was getting underway.
The protective eyeglasses in IDF warehouses were purchased in the end of the 1980s, and they are too heavy and simply not on the standard of today’s equivalent. Glassberg explains it is not just an issue of weight, but they simply are too bulky and dirty and fog up too easily, both major issues for a combat soldier.
A number of experts in various branches of the IDF began investigating protective eyewear in the marketplace about six months before the counter terrorism operation in Gaza was launched, permitting time to evaluate them and make a decision. Golani and Paratroop Brigade soldiers were selected, both in training bases and in the field to test the new eyeglasses. Ultimately, the Aegis model manufactured by the Smith Company was selected.
The old eyewear weighed 350 grams and the thickness of the lenses was 4.3mm as compared to the new ones, with a lens thickness of 2.2mm.
The purchase of the new protective eyewear was going to be gradual but the operation dictated otherwise and an urgent order was placed. The order was given by Chief Medical Officer Brigadier-General Itzik Rice, who realized ground forces heading into Gaza needed the protection. 40,000 pairs were ordered.
Glassberg reports the new eye gear will now be part of a combat soldier’s equipment and the newly-purchased glasses will be distributed to forces in the field.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)