ODs serve as patient advocates and consumer protectors

ODs serve as patient advocates and consumer protectors

Behind every ophthalmic product's stamp of approval worldwide is a story—one that begins behind the scenes in an interprofessional network of experts where optometry's insight is critical in setting the safety standards that govern a global market.

"Driving around my neighborhood, I could find somebody edging their yard with safety glasses on, and it feels good to know optometry played a part in that."

That network includes the American National Standards Institute-Accredited Standards Committee for Ophthalmic Optics (ANSI Z80), which oversees the voluntary consensus standards for areas including ophthalmic equipment and clinical devices, contact lenses, prescription and plano eyewear, frames and more; the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the international equivalent to ANSI; and the International Commission on Illumination, the ultimate authority on all things light.

The one common thread that links all standards is also the one area consumers care about most—safety. June is National Safety Month, and all times of the year the AOA members representing the profession on these national and international bodies serve as patient advocates and consumer protectors.

AOA representative to ANSI Z-87.1 on Safety Standard for Eye Protection, Gregory Good, O.D., Ph.D., is tasked with overseeing standards that ensure eye safety. Not only is he the sole AOA representative, he's also one of only a handful of eye doctors on the committee—including U.S. Armed Forces ODs. Ophthalmology has no representation.

Like ANSI Z80, this group features ODs working cooperatively alongside other stakeholders; opticians, safety engineers, workers associations, manufacturers, etc., to maintain standards for protective eyewear.

Several decades ago when polycarbonate lenses came to market, they forced a paradigm shift in standards. It forced the committee to move away from design standards to performance standards—essentially going from "lenses must meet a minimum thickness," to "lenses must protect from this kind of impact."

It's these kinds of considerations that go into the "Z87" consumers find stamped to the arms of safety glasses, or embedded in the lenses of welders' masks. "Just driving around my neighborhood, I could find somebody edging their yard with safety glasses on, and it does make me feel good to know that optometry played an important part in that," Dr. Good says.

Read more about AOA's role in the standards process in the May 2015 edition of AOA Focus.

June 2, 2015

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