In my experience, once heavier duty protective gear is adopted, people are much more comfortable keeping an exchange in medium range (at least with sticks). Even if all shots are honored, most of us feel comfortable enough with sticks that we'll trade a few leg and arm shots. Hand shots aren't a fight ender; neither are headshots through a fencing mask (I've seen multiple fighters continue fighting after being concussed through a fencing helmet). If you compare the Sayoc stick fights in the videos above to a typical WEKAF match, you'll see a huge difference: no one stays in medium range for very long when they're not wearing gear whereas WEKAF guys will watik each other over and over again.
A good way to balance out the effects of protective equipment is to go either live blade or blade trainers with armor (or padded weapons and no protective equipment).
For me, training with the blade in mind (as opposed to just sticks) developed a better understanding/sensitivity of moving between ranges. There's nothing wrong with stick sparring, but unless the training keeps edge orientation and the differences between edged vs. impact weaponry, it can quickly turn into a different game.
I do agree though: safety goggles are a smart move. Fogged up lenses=training modifier.