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HomemifashionEyres Optics: Putting the Sizzle Back into Safety

Eyres Optics: Putting the Sizzle Back into Safety

A house can be designed and built in the time it takes to design and manufacture a pair of Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) glasses, but that has never put Michel Audry, of Eyres Optics, off creating frames that combine safety with contemporary styling.

Michel Audry, is the managing director and eyewear designer of Eyres Optics, the company he founded in 1989 with the launch of the first collection of Eyres safety eyewear and the subsequent Rx-able OHS eyewear range.

According to Michel Audry, there is a lot to designing OHS glasses that people don’t understand. The rigorous Australian Safety Standards determine exhaustive criteria for OHS glasses used in Low impact to Medium impact industrial environments.

Mr. Audry says that each new eyewear model his company designs is independently tested at the University of New South Wales’ Orlab facility to ensure Australian Standards compliance. A report is then sent to SAI Global, a company, which “provides organisations around the world with information services and solutions for managing risk, achieving compliance and driving business improvement”. SAI Global registers the approved eyewear and adds it to its Standards Mark Certified Product Schedule, which can be referred to by prospective Eyres customers.

Integration and synergy between ergonomic frame designers, optical lens physicists, neurologists and radiometric scientists will be the biggest trend in the coming years

But achieving approval is just the first step in the process. SAI Global audits Eyres’s network of sub-contractors twice a year to ensure standards are complied with. On top of that, the company has its own quality assurance tests when products arrive at its Perth warehouse facility. In the case of tinted prescription glasses there is an extra step, as every pair must be tested with a Spectrometer to confirm colouring factors and density matching.

We asked Michel Audry about the safety eyewear design process and his thoughts on where eyewear trends will go next…

Q: How did you get into eyewear design?

During my initial foray into this industry I found that the products available at the time were not fit-for-purpose for our demanding Australian conditions, they were also unnecessarily unattractive – that caught my interest. Then, when travelling from Singapore to Perth at sunrise, I fell in love with the sky’s light and glare crystallisation and the way in which this effects vision. I set out to understand how the eye functions in various environments by studying the Australian standards for sunglasses, OHS eye protectors and for the past three years, optical standards.

Q: Who do you design safety glasses for?

A: I believe anyone doing activity outside in the sun should be wearing eye protection – from the beach to the mine site and anywhere in between.

Q: What do you think makes a great pair of safety glasses?

A: There are several factors – wide peripheral protection eliminates dead angles; good impact protection is important, as are the ergonomics of the frame – we need to cater for different face shapes or head sizes. Also, shorter or adaptable temple lengths are necessary to accommodate hard hats and protective masks or shields.

In terms of meeting optical quality standards, integral features include accuracy to prescription, and light filtration standards of each lens.

Compliance with Australian Standards is essential – a new research paper from the Optics and Radiometry Laboratory, School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of New South Wales, concluded that even for the simplest of prescriptions (Plano) the non-compliance rate of lenses with AS2228.11 is considered unacceptably high. Ground lenses are far more likely to be non-compliant than stock lenses. With some of the lenses, the rate of noncompliance and deviation of power from Plano seem to indicate a failure to check the power of lenses after manufacture. At Eyres we do our own checking before issuing the spectacles.

Q: What has changed the most with safety glasses over the past 10 years?

A: With advances in technology, everything! Ten years ago safety eyewear was regarded as functional only – ugly and cheap. Usually it was simply the addition of side shields to standard optical frames that made a pair of spectacles be regarded as safety eyewear.

Frame technology has evolved with new materials available such as carbon fibre, nickel and thermoplastic which are easier to work with and permit ergonomic panto angles to interact with freeform digital lenses.

Digital freeform lens manufacture allows prescription eye protectors to possess the same elements as Plano eyewear in terms of peripheral coverage.

Q: And where is design going?

We believe that the combination of ergonomic frame design with wide-vision, freeform high base curve lenses is the way of the future – particularly for outdoor occupational use. The peripheral covering provides the extra protection to meet medium and low impact standards.

Q: Where do you seek inspiration for your Eyres designs?

I invest a lot of my time into research – not only from a fashion perspective but from the perspective of what our environment requires and what people demand from their eyewear – it has to meet Australian standards, be durable, look good and preferably adapt to specific and multi-purpose uses. I travel extensively to all the major eyewear expos across the globe looking for the latest trends that I can incorporate into Eyres designs and I work with our factories on the design process, tweaking at each stage of production.

Q: What do you think will be the new big trend in eyewear?

Integration and synergy between ergonomic frame designers, optical lens physicists, neurologists and radiometric scientists will be the biggest trend in the coming years.

Go green – that’s the new mantra for the masses…The Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) market is one that’s already big and growing – it is a recognised part of many developed countries like the United States, Western Europe and South East Asian countries like Japan, Singapore and Taiwan. The present LOHAS OHS market in the United States alone is estimated to be a whopping US$209 billion, with 19 per cent of the population recognised as LOHAS OHS consumers.

Q: What has Eyres got planned for the future in terms of fashion design?

Eyres will continue pursuing up-to-date research and technology to provide people with enhanced visual acuity, depth perception and ergonomically speaking, a moveable personalised shape… We’re also focused on expanding the current market size with eco-friendly eyewear that is natural and safe from environmentally destructive particles…

Q: Where do you think Australia stands globally in terms of OHS eyewear design?

A: Australia developed the first international standard for frame and prescription lens integration and was the first to recognise that a review of the optical standards was required. We are at the forefront of eyewear design and we should be proud of our industry.

Q: When it comes to selling safety eyewear, what do you advise optometrists to talk to their customers about?

A: You need to find out which occupation the glasses will be used for… whether they will be used indoors or outside, whether the employer requires certified or low impact glasses and even what the wearer’s hobbies are. The impact criterion has to be in line with their occupation; in the mines they need medium impact, but low impact is sufficient for a lifesaver or an airport or council worker.