When you choose a new pair of readers or receive a new prescription from your eye doctor, you’re often left with a pair of outdated eyeglasses. You might even have several old frames sitting in a cabinet or drawer somewhere because you’re not sure what to do with them.
Old glasses may not be functional for you, but they could be functional for someone else. Instead of throwing away your old glasses, consider making your peace with them by donating them to a good cause.
Donating your old eyeglasses and readers could be as simple as dropping them off during a trip for groceries, or even to your local library. This guide will help you find the best solution for you and understand why it is so beneficial to donate those old specs.
Why Should I Donate My Old Glasses?
Donating your glasses is a great way to give back to your community. Even more so, it can change lives.
Did you know that more than one billion people around the world have trouble with vision problems or vision loss — and don’t have access to quality (or, in some cases, any) eye care? According to OneSight, an independent nonprofit organization, many of these individuals could improve or regain their vision with a pair of glasses.
Eyewear donations help your local community members and can even stretch as far as helping someone thousands of miles away to see the world around them clearly for the first time.
But that’s not all. Donating old glasses declutters your space, and by recycling your glasses in a charitable way, you prevent something that could be valuable for someone else’s vision from winding up at the dump.
How Can I Donate My Eyeglasses for a Good Cause?
Donating your eyeglasses is easier than you may think. Many organizations have convenient recycling centers, dropboxes, and other ways to donate. All you have to do is get your used glasses to the right place.
While some organizations can only accept brand-new glasses, many accept donations of used adult eyeglasses, prescription and non-prescription readers, and frames.
The organizations that accept used eyeglasses will inspect them to make sure they are not damaged or broken. They will also determine the exact prescription and find a match for each pair — which could be someone as close as your next-door neighbor, or someone as far as a country thousands of miles away.
Vision and medical professionals often travel to different countries to provide free eye care for those in need. When they go on these “medical missions,” your donations contribute to their services.
Which Organizations Accept Donated Eyewear?
How can you help? Consider giving your glasses to one of these inspiring organizations:
This charitable organization has been helping improve vision around the world since 1932. Through New Eyes, people in the United States are able to get new glasses. The organization also collects and distributes gently used eyewear for those who are in need overseas.
New Eyes accepts the following used eyewear that is in good to excellent condition: reading glasses, prescription glasses, safety glasses, sunglasses, and children’s glasses.
The Lions Club International
Lions Clubs International is behind one of the largest eyeglass donation efforts around the world. Donations benefit community centers, school and church programs, as well as developing countries. The organization has a large network of collection boxes and recycling centers, and volunteers work hard to distribute used eyeglasses to people who need them around the world.
OneSight has helped more than nine million people in 46 different countries by hand-delivering glasses to clinics for those in need. This independent nonprofit only donates new glasses — but you can donate your used glasses, too, and they will send them to other nonprofits such as Lions Club International.
Eyes of Hope
VSP Global, a vision insurer, helps more than two million people around the world receive eye care and eyeglasses at no cost through Eyes of Hope.
Eyes of Hope accepts new and gently used eyewear. You can learn more about the donation process on their website.
Where Can I Donate My Used Eyeglasses?
The organizations listed above have donation boxes spread out across many retailers, community centers, libraries, vision centers and more. There are many ways to donate your used eyeglasses, such as:
Drop off your glasses during a grocery shopping trip
You can find a Lions Club donation box at various retailers, including Walmart vision centers and Sam’s Club stores, and conveniently donate during your weekly grocery shopping trip. There may also be a recycling center near you if you choose to venture out.
Mail in your readers
Want to donate your readers through the mail? You can send them to Lions Clubs International here:
Lions Club International Headquarters
Attention: Receiving Department
300 W. 22nd Street
Oak Brook, IL 60523, USA
Donate your glasses through Goodwill
Does Goodwill accept used prescription eyeglasses as donations? Some locations do!
As a service for local nonprofits, select Goodwill stores accept eyewear donations and pass them on to the right places. To find out if your local Goodwill accepts eyeglasses, contact a nearby donation center.
Leave your used glasses with LensCrafters, Pearle Vision or Sears Optical
OneSight is partnered with these vision care centers, as well as Target Optical and ILORI. When any of these companies receive a donation of eyeglasses, OneSight then delivers them to organizations that accept and distribute used glasses across the world.
All you have to do is drop off your gently used prescription eyeglasses to one of these eye care office locations, and OneSight will take care of the rest!
Find an eyeglasses donation box
Not a regular Target or Sears shopper, or not sure where a LensCrafters or Pearle Vision is? OneSight can help you find a donation box near you. Your local Lions Club can also direct you to the closest donation dropbox if you contact the organization.
A Note on Donating Your Eyewear
Some eyeglasses may not be accepted, in cases of damage, wear, and tear. Always be sure to follow the donation guidelines of whichever organization you choose to donate to before dropping off or mailing in your old glasses.
A good rule of thumb, according to New Eyes, is to not donate any glasses that you would not hand down to a relative or friend.
Did you recently donate a pair of readers to a good cause? Share your story with us on our Facebook page, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! We’d love to hear all about your gift of vision to someone in need.
Updated: July 2020