Meet the modular eyewear that offers both laser and ballistic defense
Wiley X offers an innovative lens carrier system that allows users to customize their eyewear to multiple laser threats while still providing ballistic protection and the ability to function as standalone sunglasses
Sponsored by Wiley X
By Alex Ulibarri for Police1 BrandFocus
Personal protective equipment has come a long way for today’s officer. The events of 2020 – and the civil unrest that came with them – meant that many officers would face threats that they had previously never encountered. While many officers facing civil disturbances could don riot gear to protect them from physical dangers, a new threat emerged in the form of lasers being directed at them in an attempt to obscure an officer’s vision.
Although the possibility of lasting vision damage is indeed a cause for concern, the real danger comes from the temporary “flashblinding” that can disorient an officer who may be in a precarious situation with citizens, many of them agitated. This is definitely not a good thing, as an officer needs to maintain constant situational awareness.
Luckily, many companies have developed protective eyewear to defend against such laser attacks, and one company in particular has created a product that can be incorporated with the standard eyewear that many officers may already have on hand. Enter Wiley X.
ADD LASER PROTECTION TO YOUR EXISTING EYEWEAR
Wiley X, a manufacturer of premium eyewear, has been providing quality eyewear to police for 34 years. I myself have owned a pair or two. In addition to sunglasses, prescription eyeglasses and ballistic protective eyewear, Wiley X now offers a laser lens carrier with different inserts to protect against various laser wavelengths. This carrier functions as an additional insert for many models of eyewear that Wiley X already offers.
The interchangeability of this design means that officers can swap laser lens carrier inserts on the fly should they be faced with a different color laser, be it violet, red, green, etc. What’s more, because these inserts are useable with a multitude of eyewear models that an officer or agency might have on hand, they are a cost-effective means of purchasing laser protection, as one would only need to purchase the laser lens carrier.
The ability for officers to quickly be able to add laser protection to the eyewear they’re already wearing, instead of having to keep separate pairs for each task, makes the Wiley X truly modular, able to shift to whatever purpose is required at the time.
I recently tried two Wiley X frames – the Saber and the Rogue – along with all three lens carrier inserts. Both the Saber and Rogue appeared to be aesthetically appealing, high-quality pairs of sunglasses. But there’s much more than meets the eye when it comes to these shades, as the nose bridge integrates with the laser lens carrier to offer modular protection, as the different laser protection lens carriers are placed inside of the frame and sit close to the eye.
Using both the Saber and Rogue as sunglasses was enjoyable, but the ability to enhance them with a simple clip-on of the appropriate lens carrier should one encounter a laser threat is a great feature that patrol officers and SWAT operators will love.
Saber and Rogue also feature different primary lens colors that are interchangeable for different lights and uses, with a matte grey for bright days, rust for medium light and clear lenses, which can function as standalone ballistic eyewear protection for SWAT or a trip to the range.
THE DANGER OF DARK LENSES
While laser protection eyewear is not new, Wiley X’s modular lens carrier system brings a fresh, functional look to the table. Price is always a concern, whether it’s an agency or individual officer making a duty-related purchase, and many have purchased budget-grade protective glasses that can cause issues. Many of these are “one-size-fits-all” solutions to a problem that comes in many different colors, as lasers aren’t always the garden-variety red I grew up seeing as a ’90s kid.
This means those budget glasses must be tinted a darker color in order to cover as many light spectrums as possible, and even then they aren’t always effective. Many of these lower-quality eyewear systems are so dark, it can be like using a welder’s mask. With many civil disturbances happening at night, it’s easy to see how dark-colored eyewear could be a no-go for many officers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them opted to not wear them at all, as their situational awareness could be completely negated by losing the ability to see.
I’m not Corey Hart – I don’t wear my sunglasses at night, and I’m fairly certain most officers don’t either. Wiley X’s lens carrier system circumvents this issue by allowing the end user to adjust the eyewear for the specific laser being used. This means that night vision isn’t deteriorated to the point that it would be with low-grade eye protection, and it also means that you’re better protected from lasers, as you’re not using a catch-all system. Thus the Wiley X system offers better protection against lasers, superior night vision and the added ability to be used as sunglasses or ballistic eyewear.
TWO OPTIONS, TWO PRICE POINTS
Wiley X offers the two lens carrier models at two different price points. Saber is a more cost-effective model that would be perfect for an agency purchase, as it is compatible with all the lens carriers mentioned earlier, and also has different tint colors for lenses to be used in different lighting conditions. Rogue is the more premium model and an ideal eyewear for SWAT operators, as it features a more durable frame that can withstand the rigors of heavy use, including use with night vision.
Overall, I’d say it would be hard to beat the versatility of the Wiley X lens carrier system, as it offers specific protection against individual laser threats while maintaining the officer’s ability to use traditional eyewear that has been used by police for decades. All Wiley X eyewear meets ANSI Z87.1 safety standards for optical clarity and high-mass/high-velocity impact protection or MIL-PRF-32432 ballistic safety standards.
Wiley X continues to innovate, and this product could be just what you’re looking for if you’re looking for laser protective eyewear.
Visit Wiley X for more information.
About the author
Alex Ulibarri is a patrol officer and school resource officer with a police agency in North Texas. He is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice.