A lot of us need prescription lenses in order to see correctly. According to The Vision Council, 166.5 million US adults (63.7%) wear prescription eyeglasses, and 34.5 million Americans (13.2%) wear over- the-counter reading glasses.
In fact, 39.8% of American eyeglass users regularly use two or more pairs of eyeglasses. That’s 66.3 million adults. Where do all their used eyeglasses go? What can you do with your old glasses? Donate! Or, sell them.
Why Donate Used Eyeglasses
Donating your used eyeglasses (or sunglasses) to someone who can use them is a no-brainer. Your spectacles, even prescription ones, can go on and improve someone else’s life – whether it’s locally, in your own city or town, or globally.
According to OneSight, more than 1 billion people suffer from vision loss and lack of access to eye care around the world. They would very much be helped by a free pair of glasses from a donor.
Besides, donating a pair of eyeglasses that are of no use to you any more is much better than tossing them into the rubbish bin. Our landfills are already bursting at the seams with things that shouldn’t be there. Let’s not add our eyeglasses to that list.
Should you donate to a local organization or to an international? Now it gets a bit complicated, but sadly a report by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness discovered that sending donated glasses to developing countries is more costly and less effective than providing brand new, ready-made glasses. This was because of the cost of sorting the donated glasses.
So, if you’re on the fence about this, then find out from the individual organization about the likely fate of your donated glasses. If you don’t have the time to do that, then it’s best to donate your glasses to a local charity, and donate cash (if you’d like) to international eye charities. Because if you donate your eyeglasses to an international org that finds it too costly to sort through them, your glasses might end up in the garbage bin. We don‘t want that!
Are Eyeglass Donations Tax Deductible?
Eyeglass donations may be tax-deductible if you’ve donated to an accredited organization. The tax deductible will depend on the current fair market value of the eyeglass pair you are donating. So, obviously, you cannot expect much if your glasses are not all that valuable. If you’re donating expensive, branded eyeglasses, then it might be worth looking into tax deductions. Make sure you get a proper receipt of the declared fair market value of your glasses, so you can claim tax deductions for it.
How to Donate Used Eyeglasses
There are loads of nonprofit organizations that accept donated eyeglasses. The types of glasses you can donate include:
- Used prescription glasses in good condition
- Used non-prescription reading glasses
- New, unused glasses
- Spectacle frames
The donated glasses will be inspected, categorized, cleaned, and prepared by the charity to be matched to someone who can use them.
Before you donate your old eyeglasses, make sure they’re not broken or damaged in any way. And pack the glasses securely (preferably in a padded spectacle box).
Where to Donate Used Eyeglasses
Where can you donate old prescription eyeglasses? Many places accept donations of gently-used eyeglasses, prescription and non-prescription.
1 / Chain Optical Stores
2 / Lions Club International’s Recycle for Sight Program
Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centers throughout the world clean and store usable recycled eyeglasses. They operate a network of collection boxes that are easy to find in the US: check your local library, community center, bank, school or place of worship.
You can also drop off your glasses at Walmart and Sam’s Club vision centers, which have agreements with the Lions Club.
The Lions Club donates about 30 million pairs of glasses each year to recipients around the world.
3 / Local Charities
Donation centers such as Goodwill or Salvation Army may accept eyeglasses donations that they will pass on to a network nonprofit in the area. Goodwill also partners with nonprofits to provide low-income people with used eyeglasses.
4 / Online Options for Mail-in Donations
You can donate eyeglasses by mail.
1 // VSP Vision Care
Insurer VSP Vision Care allows members to mail used eyeglasses to them for donation (and also offers a free shipping label).
2 // New Eyes
Not-for-profit org New Eyes accepts eyeglasses donations by mail. They accept prescription eyeglasses, reading glasses and sunglasses and distribute them globally through partner organizations and medical missions.
3 // Respectacle
Respectacle is a not-for-profit that accepts donated glasses by mail, and then distributes them to under-served communities.
5 / US locations for Drop-off Donations
Check out this one-stop list of places that accept eyeglass donations:
1 // America’s Best
2 // David Kind Trade Up
3 // Eyes of Hope Project
4 // Goodwill
5 // LensCrafters
7 // New Eyes
8 // OneSight
9 // Respectacle
10 // Salvation Army
11 // The Lighthouse
12 // Walmart Vision Centers
How to Recycle Your Old Eyeglasses?
Send them to any of the Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centers, located all across the world. They will do it for you! Or, check with your local recycling center about your other options. BTW, you can also recycle used contact lenses.
If you are a private eye care provider, check out We Buy Frames. They buy unused (and overstocked) eyeglasses and donate the frames to various charity institutions helping those in need achieve better and quality vision.
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