Greener Eyes: Environmentally Friendly Eye Care
Environmental sustainability is becoming more important in all aspects of our life. As we discover more about how personal and corporate decisions impact our world, we are forced to examine how things can be done better and how to cut waste. Although environmental impact should not be the only factor in how we make choices about what is best for our eyes, it is a factor worth considering.
The environmental impact of contact lenses is a growing concern, as eye care providers promote daily disposable lenses over monthly disposable. Daily disposable lenses are convenient and hygienic because they don’t have to be cleaned and reused, similar to the benefits of a disposable tissue compared to using a handkerchief. Most monthly disposable contact lenses need to be taken out each night and cleaned in a multipurpose or hydrogen peroxide based solution before using again and then thrown out at the end of the month rather than each day. With both options the most significant amount of waste is the plastic waste from the lens and the packaging. Although the card board packing can be recycled with other paper products, both the lenses and individual packaging cannot be recycled in normal recycling bins because they are too small. However, both can be recycled with Bausch and Lomb’s One by One recycling program. You can find out more about their recycling program at their website https://www.terracycle.com/en-US/brigades/bauschrecycles. Many offices, including our office in Leesburg, have recycling containers where you can drop off your contact lens blister packs and contacts to be recycled.
Another option to consider is refractive eye surgery. Waste management should not be the only reason to choose surgery; safety, cost, and lifestyle factors need to be considered. However, many patients wait 5 or more years before going through with surgery even though they have decided to get surgery. Consider how many contact lenses and glasses saved acting now instead of delaying. Ask your doctor if you are a good candidate for LASIK.
The third option to consider is glasses. Glasses can be unavoidable for some people, and having multiple pairs can be important for different tasks. When buying glasses you do have the option to choose glasses with a focus on sustainability. For example Eco eyewear uses biobased recycled materials to make their frames and also plants a tree for each frame sold. You can look at their website eco-eyewear.com to find out more about their products or stop by our office to try on a pair of their frames.
In addition to buying frames sustainably, donating used frames can give them a second life. For example, many non-profits like the Lions club accept glasses which will be donated to people in need. You can learn more at their website https://www.lionsclubs.org/en/discover-our-foundation/mission or from their brochure https://temp.lionsclubs.org/EN/pdfs/iad403.pdf. Lions club international has boxes for used glasses to be recycled at many small businesses and doctor’s offices like ours. You can drop off your old glasses on the same day you pick up new ones.
Eye health and sustainability can both be a priority if you make informed decisions about your eye care. It is possible to take care of your eye needs in an environmentally responsible way and we are happy to help you do so.