Assessment of the Effectiveness of Combat Eyewear Protection Against Blast Overpressure

J Biomech Eng. 2018 Jul 1;140(7). doi: 10.1115/1.4039823.


It is unclear whether combat eyewear used by U. S. Service members is protective against blast overpressures (BOPs) caused by explosive devices. Here, we investigated the mechanisms by which BOP bypasses eyewear and increases eye surface pressure. We performed experiments and developed three-dimensional (3D) finite element (FE) models of a head form (HF) equipped with an advanced combat helmet (ACH) and with no eyewear, spectacles, or goggles in a shock tube at three BOPs and five head orientations relative to the blast wave. Overall, we observed good agreement between experimental and computational results, with average discrepancies in impulse and peak-pressure values of less than 15% over 90 comparisons. In the absence of eyewear and depending on the head orientation, we identified three mechanisms that contributed to pressure loading on the eyes. Eyewear was most effective at 0 deg orientation, with pressure attenuation ranging from 50 (spectacles) to 80% (goggles) of the peak pressures observed in the no-eyewear configuration. Spectacles and goggles were considerably less effective when we rotated the HF in the counter-clockwise direction around the superior-inferior axis of the head. Surprisingly, at certain orientations, spectacles yielded higher maximum pressures (80%) and goggles yielded larger impulses (150%) than those observed without eyewear. The findings from this study will aid in the design of eyewear that provides better protection against BOP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Explosions*
  • Eye
  • Eye Protective Devices*
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Pressure*