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The Gift that Keeps on Giving: How to Recycle Used Eyeglasses

October 2, 2018

It’s always fun to get a new set of glasses. You wear them everywhere, and the old pair usually ends up in a drawer or on a shelf collecting dust. However, there are things that you could do with those eyeglasses that could give them a second life.

One of the biggest ways your eyeglasses can make a difference is for you to donate them to a charity that provides eyewear to those who can’t afford it.

One of the leading organizations that will take your recycled eyeglasses to help those in need is New Eyes. They will accept eyeglasses in good condition and then sort them for distribution to charitable organizations all over the world.

Actor Jake Gyllenhaal has endorsed the work of New Eyes and has been an ambassador for the organization.

“[My mother] taught me to never discard a pair of old eyeglasses, but instead put them in an envelope addressed to New Jersey (where New Eyes is headquartered),” Gyllenhall told the Wall Street Journal. “In my mind and in my heart since I was a kid, knowing that there are people who can’t afford prescription glasses seemed absurd to me. A vision-impaired kid can’t see themselves in the world until they can see the world itself.”

Since 1932, New Eyes has helped over 8 million people. You can find out how to donate your glasses at new-eyes.org.

Another major organization that recycles eyewear for the needy is Lions Club International, noted for its services to the vision-impaired over many decades. The Lions’ Recycle for Sight program has provided glasses to hundreds of thousands of people all around the world. If you would like to donate your glasses to the Lions, contact your community’s local Lions club to find out where you can drop off your glasses, or visit lionsclubs.org to obtain the address for a Lions eyeglass recycling center.

The organization OneSight also accepts used eyeglasses for their mission to provide glasses to those in need in Africa and nations around the world where glasses could cost up to three months’ wages. While they don’t actually re-use your glasses, they have them recycled in an environmentally friendly manner and receive a donation from the recycling center that is then used to purchase new eyewear for those in need.

Another way to recycle your glasses is to keep using them yourself! Just because your prescription changes, it doesn’t mean that you need to get an entirely new set of glasses. You can have the lenses with your old prescription removed to make room for the new prescription lenses. In the event you choose to recycle your glasses in this way, you can donate your old lenses to the Lions or other recycling organizations.

Now, while we would prefer you recycle your glasses in a way that can help provide vision to those who need it, there are other ways that you can recycle your glasses to help organizations in your community that do not have a direct impact on eyesight. For example, if you remove the lenses from the glasses, you can donate the frames to your local high school’s drama club or a community theater in your community. Those groups usually have limited funding for items like costumes, so donations of eyeglass frames would be very welcome. And you can still recycle the lenses through one of the various charitable organizations that recycle eyewear for those in need!

Here at OCLI, we also collect eyeglasses that are no longer being used.  In the past we have donated them to New Eyes for the Needy, and to various groups going on missions to impoverished areas.  If you are interested in donating, simply drop of your glasses in the bin in our waiting room.

We hope you now realize that putting those glasses in a drawer or setting them on a shelf to collect dust just isn’t a wise way to use something that provided you with the gift of vision. In the event you can’t think of anywhere to recycle your glasses, just call the office of OCLI and we will help you find a place to make a difference with your old eyeglasses.

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