ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Standards Keep Peepers Safe this Summer

July is Eye Injury Prevention Month

New York, Jul 15, 2004

Summer draws people outdoors, into the sun, and active in a variety of pursuits that demand a certain degree of safety. During the season that poses the greatest risk to vision, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has declared July as Eye Injury Prevention Month. As we slather ourselves and our children with sunblock to protect skin from the sun’s harmful rays, doctors emphasize the need for eye protection as well – from the sun, as well as potential injury through other summer activities.

An estimated 2.4 million people in the United States suffer eye injuries every year, and most of them occur during summer. The sun is perhaps the biggest culprit, emitting ultraviolet (UV) rays that can cause sunburned corneas, cancer and increased risk of eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Sunglasses are the best way of protecting eyes outdoors from the afflictions caused by ultraviolet radiation, which most often do not reveal themselves until much later in life.

Standards help to guide the fit, durability, and degree of protection sunglasses offer. The amount of UVA and UVB protection needed depends upon how a consumer intends to use sunglasses; the two types of use are classified as Normal Use (from home to the car to the office) or High and Prolonged Exposure (at the beach, fishing, skiing). Lenses are also classified for intended function as special, dark, general purpose or cosmetic tint. The combination of the intended function and the type of use gives a total of eight UV transmittance specifications.

The Z80 ANSI-accredited Standards Committee developed ANSI / Z80.3, Nonprescription Sunglasses and Fashion Eyewear – Requirements. The Optical Laboratories Association (OLA) is the ANSI member that sponsors and administers the ANSI Z80 Committee, an ANSI accredited standards development committee responsible for writing all ANSI Z80 Standards for Ophthalmic Optics. In developing ANSI Z80.3, the Z80 Committee acted on behalf of consumer interests to research and resolve relevant safety issues pertaining to sunglasses and to provide the test methods used to ensure those problems are solved.

Doctors also recommend eye protection when playing sports this summer. Athletic and outdoor activities account for a surprising amount of eye damage. The popular sport of paintball, for example, is resulting in an increasing number of emergency room visits: according to a study published earlier this year in Pediatrics, the number of paintball eye injuries treated in emergency departments has risen from 545 in 1998 to more than 1,200 in 2000. Paintball eye injuries can be severe because of the small size and high velocity of the projectiles, which can travel up to 300 feet per second.

To address this, ANSI member ASTM International developed ASTM F1776-01, Standard Specification for Eye Protective Devices for Paintball Sports. The standard applies to eye protective devices, designed for use by players of paintball, that minimize or significantly reduce injury to the eye and adnexa due to impact and penetration of paintballs.

Do-it-yourselfers working around the home are also reminded by eye doctors that goggles or safety glasses should be worn whenever doing yard work with power equipment, which can send rocks, twigs or other debris into the air toward the face.

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