Prescription no longer a vision excuse on fire ground…
The following is an independent review of the new Sweeper Vision Model 50 glasses by photojournalist and 14-year firefighter Lt. Jason Bostic.
Protective eyewear for the vision challenged in the fire service can be not only a daunting task, but also a costly endeavor. Having worn eyeglasses with a rather heavy prescription since I was a toddler I knew I had vision issues, but didn’t know how much it could affect my daily life. Besides having some unsightly large glasses back in the 80’s and 90’s that challenged me (hey who didn’t), the real challenge was vision through my SCBA early on in my career, and then afterwards not killing my glasses during overhaul. For this review we’ll focus on the protective eyewear.
I researched companies prior to FDIC that I wanted to visit just like any other year on my journey to the convention. With the intent of having long conversations of loose equipment and rescue apparatus, I was extremely pleased when I stopped by the booth of Dragon Fire Gloves this year in the main hall. Somehow I missed their launch of a new pair modular eyewear system that had a prescription lens insert.
Over the last several years I’ve seen some costly designs out there for prescription protection out of the box, and THEN you still have to get your lenses to fit their insert. On the flip side, I’ve seen some awful looking systems that provided protection at a much lower cost. Sweeper Vision marries together price, durability, style, and options, in their new Model 50 product that I was fortunate to find at the show.
I’m a big packaging fan and look a lot at the image of a product and how it all comes apart in the “unboxing”. So into packaging I’ve been know to photograph more than one of my laptops or iPad’s before, during, and after coming out of the box. In this case I was too excited to take a look at the product and tired from walking FDIC to complete the photo gallery that night. The Model 50 comes in a fairly discrete black box with a semi-rigid and shaped protective case that stores the eyewear and all the required pieces. Right off the bat, I liked what I saw as far as something that offered some crush protection and did so with image in mind.
The Model 50 comes with the glasses, lens frame that snaps to the nosepiece, attachable strap, three sets of lenses (clear, yellow, and blue reflective), and a lens cloth. In my case from the show I also got the additional set of fiery orange lenses in their own soft case all for $60.00.
While I’ve never really been a fan of wearing goggles with a strap around the back of my head, the provided neoprene type strap that came with the Model 50 could change my mind over time. A level of comfort without feeling flimsy keeps the eyewear firmly to your head, even during the most awkward extrication or rescue.
These are pretty well constructed, in fact seeing the Dragon Fire rep at the booth continually flexing the frames and working them over during the demo I could see that these had the potential to be great. While I had been a fan of their gloves, it was my first introduction to the eyewear and during one of their slow times on Thursday they walked through their products with me.
Image wise for me these wraparound safety glasses disguise the fact that you have a prescription lens insert behind the mirror. For those with even slightly poor vision you can hide away those lenses, for those of us on the other end of the spectrum it is a huge aesthetic and cosmetic win! Best of all when the outer “Sweeper Vision” non-prescription lenses get too damaged or scratched, they can easily be field replaced. These give you the feel of the high end $300 sunglasses that are out there for riding around on your day off, or to meet the safety requirements of the job.
Comfort was something that I picked up on right away when I slid these onto my head. The foam across the top of the glasses not only to reduce material dropping through the top provided a nice spacer to keep sweat and facial oil from annoyingly smearing up the lens. It was not something that I was used to, but a nice added feature that I will certainly look for in the future.
If I had to pick these apart and really look at a downside, for the firefighter wearing prescription glasses, perhaps the worst part is waiting for your lenses to be made for the inserts and getting to wear them. All joking aside, I’d like to see something covering the additional lenses that come in the protective case so that they aren’t exposed when you go to don your glasses. Call me weird, but if you’re marketing eyewear to firefighter and rescue workers, the fiery orange should be a standard out of the box.
Depending on your prescription and any optical abnormalities, you may experience some hurdles in getting your lenses for the insert. Not to name a specific big-box retailer, but not all optical departments have the ability to make a lens for a wrap that has a slight tilt to it. Because of the curvature of the frame and the tilt, additional measurements were required and changes to compensate. Thanks to the excellent services of The Ohio State University Optometry Clinic my lens inserts came out awesome.
At the time of the review the Sweeper Vision website was still under construction and information to order additional lenses, parts, or complete eyewear was not available. I look forward to viewing their pricing structure and new lens offerings to purchase a spare of the fiery orange just in case.
Safe to say the Sweeper Vision Model 50 made its transition into my truck and before heading into the station for a call, these will be going on my head. I can see these providing me years of protection in the fire service, time on the shooting range, out on the ATVs, or as my sunglasses in the truck. Congratulations on an excellent product!