Jan 302011
 
An optical refractor (phoropter) in use.
Image via Wikipedia

The Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) TechSolutions department is set to deliver to Navy Special Warfare Command personnel later this year new protective eyewear that will eliminate the need for warfighters to stop to change out colored lenses to accommodate differences in light levels.

The Fast-Tint Protective Eyewear (FTPE) changes color quicker than transitional lenses commonly found at an optometrist’s office. “Transition time is less than 0.5 seconds,” said Stephanie Everett, ONR’s TechSolutions program manager.

“Currently, warfighters are using a set of interchangeable lenses that require them to stop and manually switch lenses to adjust the goggles to a particular light environment,” Everett said. “But they can’t take the time to stop and remove and replace the lenses.”

Instead, they often simply remove their sunglasses when moving inside, leaving their eyes unprotected. The FTPE was designed to enable them to maintain ballistic protection under all lighting conditions, without interrupting their operational tempo.

Liquid crystal solutions within the lenses contain customized dyes that transition to amber, blue, dark gray or clear when an electric charge is applied. Lenses can change color automatically as wearers move in and out of varying environments, or lens colors can be altered manually by pushing a small button on the side of the glasses. Additionally, the lenses meet the American National Standards Institute‘s ballistic impact safety requirements.

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