Eyeglass Recycling has been a signature project for Lions Clubs across the country for more than 70 years. Saving Sight supports the Lions in this cause by serving as a collection and distribution center for recycled eyeglasses, collecting approximately 60,000 pairs per year. In 2015, Saving Sight began partnering with ReSpectacle, too, which increased the number of gently used eyeglasses that are recycled by distributing them for free via ReSpectacle’s innovative online database and ordering system.
For disadvantaged people, a pair of used eyeglasses can mean the difference between drowning in poverty and providing for their families. The World Health Organization estimates that 153 million people worldwide suffer from refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism), which can usually be corrected with glasses. With strong vision, children can do better in school, adults can return to the workforce, and everyone can better accomplish the tasks of daily life.
That’s why Saving Sight partners with Lions clubs, ReSpectacle, and humanitarian groups to collect used eyeglasses and recycle them by distributing them to people in need. Join us in Eyeglass Recycling so people can get the vision they need to lead healthy, independent lives.
How Does Eyeglass Recycling Work?
Donated eyeglasses are brought to Saving Sight by Lions clubs, other organizations, and individual donors. Volunteers sort, clean, and process the glasses by type. Prescription glasses of all types are welcome, including sunglasses, which can protect people from cataracts caused by sun damage. At this time, however, we cannot make use of glasses cases, loose lenses, or other accessories.
Saving Sight then provides the glasses to people in need through two channels: 1) ReSpectacle for U.S. distribution and 2) Humanitarian groups traveling abroad for international distribution.
ReSpectacle is a nonprofit organization, based in St. Paul, MN, that offers an online catalog, connecting people in need to a selection of recycled eyeglasses. The glasses, which have been washed, sorted, photographed, and processed, are then shipped to the person who ordered them, free of charge. In 2015, Saving Sight partnered with ReSpectacle, which gives Saving Sight a worthy outlet for recycling its glasses, and the massive influx of stock provides ReSpectacle with a critical mass of eyewear. As a result, medically underserved people can choose from a wider selection of prescriptions and styles to get the eyewear they need at no cost.
To order glasses, you must first get a prescription from an eye doctor. Then access ReSpectacle’s online database and enter the prescription data to see what close-matching pairs are currently available. Ordering your glasses is free, but if you are able to make a small donation to help cover the cost of shipping and facilities, you have that option at the online checkout.
Please help us get the word out about this new, sight-saving partnership. If you know someone who needs glasses for themselves or a family member but can’t afford it, please direct them to Saving Sight and ReSpectacle.
Historically, Saving Sight has focused on recycling eyeglasses by providing them to people who were traveling abroad on humanitarian excursions and mission trips. These groups contact Saving Sight to request a supply of glasses, and the groups then take the glasses with them overseas to distribute directly to people in need. In many cases, these groups provide a critical service in medically underserved parts of the world where a medical mission trip might be the only chance impoverished people have to get corrective eyewear. Saving Sight and the Missouri Lions have provided more than 500,000 pairs of donated glasses to people in developing countries across the world.
If you need eyeglasses for your group’s upcoming mission trip, please contact us at 800-753-2265.
To read stories about people who recycled glasses abroad, check out our Eyeglass Recycling Stories.
How Can I Help?
Recycle Your Used Eyeglasses
There are three easy ways to recycle your used eyeglasses:
1) Drop them off at one of Saving Sight’s six office locations. If you are delivering a large quantity of eyeglasses, please contact us at 800-753-2265 so we can prepare for your delivery.
2) Drop them off at a Lions club eyeglass recycling dropbox or Lions club facility in your community. If you don’t know where one is, you can contact your local Lions club directly to find out.
3) Ship them directly to Saving Sight, Attn: Eyeglass Recycling, 404 Portland St., Columbia, MO 65201.
Volunteer to Prepare Used Eyeglasses for Recycling
If you live near Columbia or are able to visit Columbia, you can volunteer to process used eyeglasses at our Columbia office. Volunteers help sort, clean, photograph, and enter eyeglasses into the ReSpectacle database. You can volunteer by yourself or you can make the visit with your Lions club, college organization, church group, or just a group of friends. To schedule a time to process eyeglasses, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Sheila Fields at 800-753-2265 or send us a note through our Contact Form.
Volunteer Abroad for an Eyeglass Recycling Mission Trip
In 2015, Saving Sight began collaborating with Lions leaders, Missouri optometrists, and other people interested in traveling to recycle eyeglasses abroad. The operational details of these trips are still being developed, but Saving Sight intends to provide leadership and organization to two clinics per year. If you are interested in receiving information about the inaugural trip in 2015, please contact Sheila Fields at 800-753-2265 or send us a note through our Contact Form.
Please contact Volunteer Coordinator Sheila Fields at 800-753-2265 or send us a note through our Contact Form to ask additional questions.