Focus on Standards

By Jeff Endres
Unlike the recent business cycle, ophthalmic standards have been a boom business the last few years. Revelations in relation to BPA, lead, nickel release, impact resistance, and the scheduled cyclic review of existing standards have meant that more than half a dozen documents important to optical labs have recently changed.

Few of us any longer question how it came to pass that frame tracers, edgers, generators and lab software systems can “talk” to each other, when it was the work of industry experts writing the Data Communication Standard that made it possible. And then there is the standard that lab managers think about the most, the one that covers power, prism and axis, ANSI Z80.1 and with which your lab operates every day. Both of these standards and many more have been written by industry experts just like you, experts that saw the value in helping themselves through helping industry, and took the time to participate. A standard is defined by ANSI as: a document, established by consensus that provides rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results. (As defined in ISO/IEC Guide 2:2004)

In everyday terms, standards are rules or requirements reached by a consensus of the opinions of the participants. The end result of most optical standards is to address the safety and quality of the product to the end user, but it is also true that standards level the playing field between competitor labs, and lab suppliers across the country and across borders.

Volunteers: Those that show up make the decisions

In the U.S., a handful of individual experts and optical industry veterans are involved in the writing of the standards that rule the optical lab business. This group of volunteers writes the standards to which labs aspire to conform. What do these people have or do that you don’t? The answer is simple – they take the time to participate.

As easy as it may be to ignore standards and concentrate on jobs in the lab, being involved in the standards process can be very beneficial to your business. The opportunities to network, meet experts, and stay ahead of manufacturing and the market are unsurpassed. It is a chance for your company to receive information on important issues from your peers and to establish contacts in a forum where you can network with the business community, customers, government, and regulators. Participating in the standards process means gaining detailed advance knowledge and so anticipate requirements and trends. If you choose, your business can get recognition for leading in your field, and use this status as a marketing tool.

How do you proceed?

In general anyone who is interested in participating and developing a standard can do so, provided the individual has the needed expertise and comes to the issue through the established channels. You can get involved in the standardization process at both the national level as a first step, and then the international level. Taking membership in ANSI and engaging one of the recognized contributing bodies like the OLA or The Vision Council is a good start.

Four Reasons to Get Involved

• Best way to stay informed

• Join the group of known experts

• Participate

• Do it for industry—do it for your business

Contact your industry technical experts, they will steer you toward the best solution to an engaging standards experience, and at the level of commitment that fits your needs. Don’t wait— the time is never exactly right —but there is never a better time to expand your business opportunities.


Labtalk June 2020