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Submitted by on Mar 7, 2022

Eyeglasses provided by the United States military to its service men are known as GI glasses. The most prevalent “birth control glasses” (also known as “BCGs”) and other versions are dysphemisms for them. They were once officially known as RPGs, or regulatory prescription glasses. Due to their unstylish look, this was popularly referred to as “rut prevention spectacles.”

During World War II, the first version was created for use with gas masks. The frame had a wire rim, cable temples, and a “P3” lens shape. The design was a reinterpretation of a British military style.

The substance was changed from nickel alloy wire to cellulose acetate after WWII. Gray cellulose acetate was first used, but it was phased out in 1968, with residual inventories being distributed until they were depleted. Black cellulose acetate was utilized for the replacement frames.

The lens shape was changed to the “S9” in the late 1970s. For a short time, black “S9” frames were available before being replaced by brown cellulose acetate. In 2012, the brown cellulose acetate frames were phased out, and a new smaller unisex lens shape, the “5A,” with a black frame, was released. Rochester Optical, the only maker of the R-5A frame, invented the contemporary “5A” form.

New recruits in the United States military are given GI glasses at no cost to the government during recruit training or Officer Candidate Schools. Service members, including but not limited to the BCG, may undergo recruit training wearing civilian spectacles until government-issued ones are assigned. For these workouts, contact lenses are never permitted. After completing recruit training, military members are allowed to wear Frame of Choice spectacles or contact lenses that are conservative in style and color. For those who qualify, the military provides annual replacements, and employees can choose between government-issued glasses and a variety of more appealing eyewear, including prescription gas mask inserts and inserts for government-funded ballistic eyewear.

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