Several studies and many anecdotal reports indicate that aircrew members focus night vision goggle (NVG) eyepiece lenses to more negative powers than would be expected based on refractive error, presumably due to instrument myopia, "dark focus" myopia, and other factors. Excessive negative power stimulates accommodation, introducing risks from discomfort, fatigue, and blurred vision. Aircrew members are trained to employ specific adjustment techniques to minimize "over-minusing" of eyepiece lens powers, but those techniques are prone to error.
The currently fielded AN/AVS-9 NVG (F4949) has a focus range of (+2.0) to (-6.0) diopters, and meets the needs of most aircrew. However, the new AN/AVS-10 NVG panoramic night vision goggle (PNVG) has a fixed focus of (-1.0) diopters due to engineering design constraints. Accessory snap-on lenses are available, but data are needed to optimize the distribution of lens powers to be acquired and maintained.
This study involved the characterization of vision (visual acuity, perceived quality, and comfort) as a function of: 1) eyepiece focus setting using trial lenses; 2) F4949 eyepiece focus adjustments using a point source vs. a Hoffman 20/20 box; and 3) PNVG eyepiece lens selections using a lens bar vs. snap-on lens selections. Eight subjects with normal (20/20 corrected) vision ranging in age from 23 years to 49 participated in this study. The experiments were conducted in the Aerospace Vision Experimental Laboratory and the Dynamic Vision Assessment Facility at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio using F4949 and PNVG devices with a custom-designed NVG-compatible computer-based visual acuity acquisition system.