On a military procurement manifesto, they're S9s; but to a new soldier who's just received a new pair, they're BCGs, or Birth Control Glasses. The spectacles' thick frame and large lenses are said to make the wearer so unattractive that chances of connecting with a member of the opposite sex become vanishingly small.
Now, however, the military is offering a new design — a nod to the fact that the standard-issue specs are so ugly, many troops end up stuffing them in the back of their trunk as soon as they leave training.
Retired Navy optometrist Edward Grout tells NPR's Robert Siegel that BCGs deserve their unfortunate name.
"When I entered the Navy initially, we had some gray frames, and then we went to some black frames," Grout says. "When the brown frames came out, we were all a little disappointed."
That was back in 1990. Now, 22 years later, the military is switching to a smaller, sleeker, black-framed style.
"Time will probably tell whether or not the new 5A frame will be considered an improvement," Grout says. "I believe that it will because of the fact that nowadays, it seems to be a little more stylish for a lot of individuals to go back to that Buddy Holly appearance."