Give Your Old “Specs” a Second Look

March 9, 2021

Have an old pair of eyeglasses you no longer wear hanging around in a drawer somewhere? Donate them! There are several programs that collect old glasses for reuse by those who need them.

According to OneSight, a nonprofit “committed to eradicating the global vision care crisis, 1.1 billion people worldwide suffer from vision loss and lack access to vision care.” A pair of eyeglasses returns vision to those in need. While OneSight offers only new glasses to those it serves, there are several organizations that collect old prescription glasses and sunglasses for reuse.

The International Eyecare Center offers a convenient list of programs and locations to deposit your old glasses. These include the Lions Club International’s Recycle for Sight Program. Through this program, the Lions Club donates about 30 million pairs of glasses each year to developing countries. Walmart Vision Centers partner with the Lions Club to collect eyewear. Look for the blue and white Lions Club donation box, or ask your local Walmart if it accepts donations.

Local thrift shops like Goodwill and Salvation Army also may collect used eyeglasses, along with some optical chains. Call those in your area to find out which ones have recycling or donations programs for glasses.

If you can’t find a local drop-off location, the VSP Eyes of Hope program offers several collection opportunities, including for community organizations, like schools or churches, and individuals. You can download and display a flier and then use any sturdy box to collect donations. Once full, the collected eyeglasses can be shipped to them for free using a prepaid shipping label.

Another mail-in option is through ReSpectacle, although the donor must cover shipping. The organization provides this helpful checklist for what qualifies as “gently used” glasses. Here are their requirements, which are useful for considering any pair of glasses for possible donation.

What does “gently-used” eyeglasses mean?

ReSpectacle says to first consider, “Would I be comfortable giving someone these glasses?” If not and/or if they have any of the nine issues listed below, the glasses have met the end of their usability.

  1. Missing one or both temples (sometimes called “arms”)
  2. Missing one or both nose pads
  3. Missing one or both lenses
  4. Lenses that are loose or readily fall out
  5. Lenses with major cracks (more than 1/4″ or 1/2 cm)
  6. Lenses difficult to see through due to scratches or peeling coatings
  7. Hinges that are non-functioning or missing hardware
  8. Any sharp points
  9. Deformation beyond simple repair

So, as you root around in that junk drawer, keep an eye out for your old specs and send them along if they still have life left so someone else can see!

Photo credit: Yazgi Bayram | iStock | Getty Images Plus