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How to properly recycle your contact lenses and glasses

Global Recycling Day is a yearly recycling initiative that encourages people worldwide to think about how they are disposing of their waste. There are multiple ways to recycle that allows some materials to be reused many times over and at Optical Express, we can help you with your recycling to become more sustainable when it comes to your eyewear.

Did you know about our in-clinic recycling service?

At Optical Express, we are accelerating our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and becoming one of the industry’s leading sustainable businesses.

In a survey of over 3,000 contact lens wearers, we found that 97% are damaging the environment by flushing them down the drain or incorrectly disposing of them in the bin.[1] As single-use plastics, contact lenses do not completely disintegrate, turning into microplastics and causing major pollution to our environment.

That is why, in each of our clinics across the UK and Ireland we offer a contact lens recycling programme. So, instead of worrying about the correct way to recycle at home, our patients can go to their local Optical Express clinic and discard any old contact lenses, plastic film, pods and cardboard packaging. Not only does this make life easier for everyone but it goes a long way towards saving our planet.

Patients can also recycle their old, unused glasses to any Optical Express clinic which are then donated to at risk communities within Burundi, Uganda, Sudan, Zambia and Malawi as part of our ongoing support of the charity, Glasgow The Caring City. Since 2007 more than 1 million people have received the gift of sight with glasses donated by Optical Express and their patients.

The effect contact lenses have on our environment

It seems that a number of our patients are not aware of the damage caused to the environment by single-use plastic contact lenses. Over 750 million plastic lenses and their packaging are being flushed down the drain or end up in landfill every year.[2] Once in landfill it can take up to 500 years for these plastics to decompose[3], polluting our earth’s soil and water and having a massive detrimental impact on our land and sea-life in the process. This is why we are urging people to not only make full use of the recycling service provided in our clinics, but to think about a more sustainable eye care approach.

Choose a more sustainable eye care solution

Now that we know the full extent of the damage that contact lenses are having on our environment, Optical Express is taking the war on plastics even more seriously. This includes encouraging patients to look for more sustainable vision correction options such as, laser or lens replacement surgery. Not only is laser eye surgery a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, but it is actually the more cost effective option when compared to the lifelong spend on glasses and contact lenses.[4] So it is a more sustainable approach for both our planet and your pocket!

Find out if you’re suitable for laser eye or lens replacement surgery by booking a free consultation today at your nearest Optical Express clinic. Make a simple change today to help protect our planet.




[1] Optical Express surveyed over 3,000 contact lens users across the UK between May and September 2019. 

[2] Optical Express survey of 3,104 Contact Lens wearers & ACLM 2016 contact lens statistics.

[3] WWF – The lifecycle of plastics 2018

[4] On average laser eye surgery is the equivalent of 3years contact lens wear