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Where can I donate my old glasses?

young Asian volunteers collecting donations

Maybe you’ve got your eye on a cool new pair of frames, you had LASIK eye surgery or your child's prescription changed yet again. Chances are, you’ve got a perfectly good pair of old glasses you can donate. 

That’s what happened when personal finance blogger and Wallet Hacks founder Jim Wang got LASIK after 15 years of wearing glasses. His vision was now clear and so was one other thing: He didn't want his old frames to end up in a landfill. 

So he stuck his most recent pair, $80 glasses with dark-colored plastic frames, in a box with another old pair. “They were in like-new condition, so I felt bad throwing them away,” he says. 

He came across the box several years later while cleaning his house and decided to donate the old glasses, along with a few pairs his wife had stashed. All he had to do was pop them into a box, slap on a prepaid shipping label and drop them in the mail.  

“I was surprised how easy it was,” he says. 

Why donate your old glasses? 

One big reason to donate your old glasses: You can easily change lives. Over 1 billion people around the world with vision loss and lack of access to eye care could regain their sight with a pair of glasses, according to the independent nonprofit OneSight.

Donating an old pair of glasses you have lying in a drawer costs you nothing and can make someone else’s life much better, from helping a child on the other side of the world to see the board at school to letting a neighbor across town get the readers they need to get back to their favorite hobby.

In addition to giving the gift of sight, donating old glasses allows you to declutter your home and divert a perfectly useful item from the dump. Since the average U.S. resident tosses 4.5 pounds of solid waste per day, anything you hold back can help.

How can I donate eyeglasses to charity?

It’s as easy as grabbing your old glasses and getting them to the right place. There are a number of U.S. and global nonprofit groups that accept eyeglasses donations.

Some groups accept used glasses while others take only donations of new glasses. Depending on the organization, you may be able to donate: old adult or children’s prescription glasses, non-prescription readers, new glasses or glasses frames.

Once you donate your glasses, the organization will assess them, determine the exact prescription, and clean and possibly fix them if necessary. Your old glasses will then get matched to someone who needs them, around the world or in your neighborhood.

Many donated glasses get used in “medical missions,” trips in which qualified medical professionals provide free vision care and correction in areas with limited access to eye doctors and health resources.

Who accepts donated eyeglasses?

Lions Clubs International

Lions Clubs International operates a network of collection boxes and Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centers, where volunteers process donated glasses for distribution through medical missions around the world.

New Eyes

New Eyes, a United Way agency, buys new glasses for people in the United States but also accepts, processes and distributes donations of gently used eyeglasses for people overseas. New Eyes accepts used prescription glasses, reading glasses, sunglasses, safety glasses and children’s glasses in good to excellent condition.

OneSight

OneSight is an independent nonprofit that has helped more than 9 million people in 46 countries. They set up permanent vision centers and hold charitable clinics around the world. While OneSight only dispenses new eyewear to patients, they accept donations of used eyewear and send it to Lions Clubs International in support of their recycling programs.

Eyes of Hope 

Through Eyes of Hope, vision insurer VSP Global provides access to no-cost eye care and eyewear for more than 2 million people around the world. They accept donations of new and gently used eyewear.

Where to donate old glasses

Wondering where to donate eyeglasses? Donation is easy and convenient. For example, you can:

1. Donate glasses at LensCrafters, Sears Optical or Pearle Vision

You can drop off gently used prescription glasses at a LensCrafters, Sears Optical or Pearle Vision near you. All three stores partner with OneSight, which will deliver the glasses to a nonprofit that accepts and distributes used glasses globally.

2. Drop glasses off in your community

Lions Clubs work with their local communities to make donation easy, so you may find a donation box at your local library, bank, small business, school or place of worship. 

3. Take your old glasses to Goodwill

Your local Goodwill may accept eyeglasses donations to pass on to another nonprofit in the community. Check with a nearby donation center to see if Goodwill offers this in your area.

4. Mail your eyeglasses donation

VSP Vision Care, the largest vision insurer in the United States, allows members to print a free shipping label to send donated glasses to them for free. New Eyes also accepts eyeglasses donations by mail

5. Drop off your glasses while you shop

You can donate old glasses at Walmart and Sam’s Club vision centers across the United States. The Lions Club has agreements with these retailers.

6. Find eyeglasses donation drop boxes near me

For a list of donation drop boxes in your community, contact your local Lions Club.

Things to keep in mind when donating glasses

To make sure your donation gets used, check the posted donation guidelines. It’s common for nonprofits not to accept contact lenses, broken or damaged glasses, or glasses cases.

For example, New Eyes accepts glasses in good to excellent condition, and requests that you do not send any glasses you wouldn’t give to a friend or relative.

“I recommend donating your old glasses because there's so much waste,” Wang says. “It's nice to reuse things when we can. It's often really easy, and someone else can make good use of them.”

SEE RELATED: Can you recycle your contact lenses? Yes, you can

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Allie Johnson

Allie Johnson has been a freelance writer for over 10 years, covering topics such as personal finance, insurance and health. Allie started wearing glasses in fifth grade and switched ... Read more