What to Do With Your Old Prescription Glasses
It happens. You go to the optometrist once every year or two and find out your eyes have gotten worse and you need new lenses. Sometimes we outgrow our frames and want to move on, and other times, our specs just crack or break.
Regardless of the reason, what are you to do with your old prescription glasses? They don’t have to stay hidden away in a drawer somewhere, nor do they have to end up in landfill. Given that over 60% of people in the world wear specs, and that we upgrade them roughly every two years, we’re creating a lot of waste by throwing them away.
Before starting, it’s worth saying that prevention is the best cure. To minimize our impact on the environment, it’s best to start out with the right frames and ensure we do our best to make them last. This can mean buying higher quality frames rather than cheaper ones which are more likely to break quickly (e.g. buying steel frames over plastic ones). Or, you could buy second hand frames from a thrift store, thereby reusing old ones that already exist! Additionally, ensure you use a case – don’t throw them in your bag, as this may cause scratches and cracks.
Here are 5 things you can do with your old prescription glasses:
If you just need stronger lenses, or your lenses are damaged, you can still keep your frame. A re-lens treatment will allow you to keep using your specs by placing updated lenses in your current frame. Simply visit your optometrist and ask them to change your lenses for you. Ask if they can reuse or recycle the lenses for you, or find a recycling program yourself.
If you haven’t been using a case or your specs have had a nasty fall, you may be in the unfortunate circumstance of having glasses with bent or broken arms, lost nose pads and weak hinges. Rather than throwing them out, it’s a good idea to try to fix them. You can do this yourself using an online tutorial and a few tools, or you can take them to an optometrist.
Sell or gift
Some people may be interested in purchasing your old specs – especially if they’re of a unique or retro style. You can ask your friends, family and co-workers if they’re interested, or list them on a website such as Gumtree. They will need to be re-lensed.
There may be some donation programs which don’t do what they intend to do, but there are others which are doing well. Some programs will take old specs and recycle and/or distribute them to people with vision impairments who can’t afford new ones. Have a look online for some suitable programs.
Individual specs are made of a range of materials, from plastic, steel to even gold. This may make them challenging to recycle. However, some organisations offer solid recycling services, where they are able to deconstruct the pair and recycle the raw materials. The good thing about this is that even if your pair is broken, you can still recycle them.
If your specs are purely aluminium then you’ll have no problems recycling them. However, they will need to be deconstructed and separated from the lenses. Check with your local council or recycling service to see where to dispose of them. Some shops and libraries may offer recycling bins for aluminium items.
With the wide range of things you can do with old prescription glasses, there’s really no need to throw them away.