Recycling is in – even for prescription or reading glasses. Choosing to donate your old eyeglasses will not only reduce trash but also give somebody that can’t afford glasses a chance at a better life. There are many charities that act as a matchmaking service between used eyeglasses and people who need them.
Some places will even accept prescription or regular sunglasses. Although regular sunglasses are cheap in America, they aren’t in many other places of the world. People who live along the equator get exposed to massive amounts of sun glare and so using sunglasses will help prevent eye damage as they age.
Your Local Shop
If you are getting new prescription glasses or frames, ask the store you are buying the glasses from if they have a used glasses program. Many large chain eyeglass shops such as LensCrafters do. Some may have a program with a local charity like Lions Club International. The odds of you getting any sort of discount for donating your old eyeglasses are small, though. You may be able to get a receipt for your taxes but not all programs offer this.
Most often, there will be a donation box at a store that acts like a charity donation jar. Only, you place in your eyeglasses or sunglasses instead of money. It’s best to keep the glasses in a holder so they will not get damaged on the way to the charity.
Direct to Charities
According to Charity Guide.com, the price of the average pair of glasses in Africa is worth three month’s salary. This is well beyond what many people can afford. Some charities may offer a receipt for your glasses, but most will not. It may be easier for you to mail the glasses in a padded envelope or box than to deliver the glasses in person.
Charities that send glasses to Third World countries include New Eyes for the Needy, Unite for Sight, Give the Gift of Sight and Lions Club International. You may also want to make a note to them to not contact you for money. Most charities will take you off of their “begging” lists if you ask.
Gathering Old Glasses
If you’re going to send one pair of glasses through the mail to a charity, why not send as many as you can? Contact your glasses wearing friends, family and co-workers for old pairs. It is a good wqay to support worthy charities when you can’t write a check.
Because they are so small and lightweight, glasses and sunglasses are incredibly easy to loose. You may also want to check the lost and found sections of local department stores, banks, churches and large public transportation stations to see if they have any old, unwanted glasses lying about. If you work in one of these places, you could suggest to your employer to start a “glasses drive” of lost glasses and donated glasses from co-workers. Who knows? Your employer may even pay for the postage.
Charity Guide.com. “Donate Your Out-of-Prescription Eyeglasses.” http://charityguide.org/volunteer/fifteen/eyeglasses-donation.htm
Unite For Sight. “Donate Ophthalmic Equipment.” http://www.uniteforsight.org/how-to-help/donate-equipment
Discovery: Planet Green. “How and Where to Donate Your Old Eyeglasses.” http://planetgreen.discovery.com/fashion-beauty/donate-eyeglasses.html
Author has worn glasses since she was two years old.