A few years ago, I opted to get Lasik.
I was having problems with my contact lenses, after using them for years and not having any issues, and it got to the point that I was sick of it. During allergy season, my eyes would change sizes just enough that the contacts would slide around. So I juiced up my health savings account and spent it on the procedure.
It’s amazing… but it also left me with a bunch of eyeglasses I no longer needed. They were perfectly good and I paid a small fortune for them (this was before I knew about cheap places to buy glasses online!), so I did what most people did – I stuck them in a box in a closet.
Now, over eight years later (!!!), I found them. And I’ve accepted they serve no purpose whatsoever. 🙂
But, rather than throw them out, it would be better if we donated them. There are a lot of great organizations that take used eyeglasses and if you’re in the same situation, here are some of the best options:
Please only donate eyeglasses that are in good condition. Please don’t send in broken glasses because they’ll just throw them out.
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Lions Clubs International
If you only have a few pairs or you live near a Lions Clubs International location, it may be better for you to drop them off. They have several locations across the country and the world. They will take your glasses, clean them, and send them to other countries to give you those in need.
At just one location, The Minnesota Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center, they’ve collected more than 10 million pairs of eyeglasses and more than 700,000 pairs each year. They’ve been doing this for 80 years and dispense the glasses in developing nations for free. In Minnesota, there are hundreds of locations where you can drop off glasses.
I suspect this is the case in all the areas they support.
As of 2022, it appears that Lions Clubs is the only group still taking used glasses.
VSP Global has decided to end their used glasses donation program citing “substantial decrease in requests for donations to support vision care outreach.” They recommend donating to Goodwill, Salvation Army or Lions Club.
The simplest way to donate your glasses is with VSP Global, a vision insurance company. After a bit of searching, this was the only way to get a prepaid shipping label. Through their website, you can get a prepaid UPS label to mail your old glasses via UPS to Lions Clubs International.
The label is addressed to:
Eyes of Hope
11340 White Rock Rd., Suite 200
Rancho Cordova CA 95742
If you are an organization that wants to collect used eyeglasses, this program is perfect for you. They will mail you a collection box that you can set out and then just stick on their prepaid label to mail the whole thing off to Eyes of Hope.
New Eyes For The Needy
Sadly, New Eyes has also ended their used glasses donation program.
New Eyes is a 501(C)(3) that was founded back in 1932 to help improve vision for the poor, both children and adults. They will recycle your used glasses (in good condition, don’t send broken glasses!) and distributes them to the poor overseas. They are a United Way Agency.
New Eyes is not as large as Lions so you may not be able to find a place near you to drop off your old frames. You can, however, just mail your glasses in a padded envelope or box to:
549 Millburn Avenue
P.O. Box 332
Short Hills, NJ 07078
OneSight has ended their used glasses program too and now just forward donations to several Lions organizations.
OneSight is another charitable organization that collects, recycles, and distributes glasses. They have partnered with several eye care providers to collect glasses on their behalf including LensCrafters, Sears Optical and Pearle Vision. You can bring your old eyeglasses to those stores and drop them off there for recycling.
If you have a lot of eyeglasses, you can mail them here:
Optical Village OneSight Center
9924 International Blvd., Dock 22
Cincinnati, Ohio 45246
There are many people around the world who are in need of eyeglasses and if you have a pair in good condition, it’s better served being used by someone else than taking up space in a landfill.
Hopefully, you can find a convenient way to give your specs a new life!
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Grace Delanoy says
Thank you! This was very helpful!
Good to know that one can donate their old glasses someplace. I now have a cataract developing and I need a new prescription. Meantime I have all the old prescription glasses that may help someone else. Have at least 7-8 pairs that I would like to donate. Thanks for the source where I can now do that.
S, Auld says
Thank you. I would have ended throwing them out
Jim Wang says
It’s way better to donate them than have them go to a landfill!
A great resource. Thanks from one CMU alum to another!
Jim Wang says
You’re welcome Krista!
Unfortunately, some of the resources listed will NOT accept used glasses any more 🙁
VPS website says: “Please note that we’re no longer accepting donations of gently used glasses or distributing them to support international mission trips.”
New Eyes website says: “NEW EYES USED EYEGLASSES PROGRAM IS PERMANENTLY CLOSED.”.
OneSight website says: “While OneSight dispenses 100% new eyewear to patients, we do accept eyewear donations. Donated eyewear is sent to several Lions organizations and is used to support their domestic and international programming.”
Sounds like the only options now are sending or bringing to the Lions Club, or sending them to OneSight, and having them forward the glasses to the Lions Club.
Jim Wang says
Thank you for letting me know, I’ve updated the post to reflect this.