How to Recycle or Donate Eyeglasses

An Overview On Donating Your Used Eyeglasses

Spring cleaning can lead you to find all sorts of treasures hiding the back of the drawer, old eyeglasses being a common find for people lacking 20/20 vision. So what do you do with old eyeglasses when the prescription (and the style!) is no longer suitable? You definitely shouldn’t just throw them away:

  • Recycling nightmare: Because eyeglasses are composite products, made from a variety of materials all fused together, recycling them is next to impossible and few facilities exist as a result.
  • Missed opportunity: Did you know that the price of a pair of glasses is often as high as three-months’ income for people in developing countries?[1] Not only that, but 36 million people in the world are needlessly blind![2] These individuals need glasses and could definitely use yours, so don’t waste the materials by throwing them away!

Instead of throwing your glasses in the trash, make a difference by donating old eyeglasses to a charitable organization. There are many types of eye equipment that you can donate to charitable organizations to prevent waste resources from going to the landfill, including:

  • Prescription eyeglasses
  • Reading glasses
  • Prescription sunglasses
  • Non-prescription sunglasses
  • Low vision aids and magnifiers

If you want to learn more about the process of recycling eyeglasses through donation centers, check out the Lions Club Journey of a Pair of Eyeglasses presentation.


Where to donate used eyeglasses

The best way to recycle used eyeglasses is to send them to a charitable organization. These medical missions, often called “joy clinics” because of the relief they bring to people around the world, will redistribute your prescription eyeglasses to individuals in poor, rural areas where eye doctors rarely visit and the cost of eyeglasses is too high.

So, how do you donate eyeglasses? Start by preparing them for the recycling center by removing any loose or broken pieces and then cleaning them. Next, look for where to donate used eyeglasses with these resources:

  • Eyesight charities: Our recycling database has a whole list of organizations where you can donate eyeglasses simply by dropping them off.
  • Eyeglass drop-off sites: Most major eyeglass retailers will have a drop-off box for collecting used eyeglasses for redistribution to medical charities.

Remember that even if there’s not a drop-off center in your area, many of these eyeglass recycling programs will let you mail in your used eyewear for recycling.



1  Hering, B. (n.d.). Donate your Out-Of-Prescription Eyeglasses. Retrieved August 3, 2010, from Chairty Guide:

2  Donate To Unite For Sight. (n.d.). Retrieved August 2, 2010, from Unite for Sight:

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