Why we don’t accept old spectacles
Do you accept glasses?
At Sightsavers we are often inundated with generous donations of used spectacles, however, we are no longer able to accept them. Considering our area of work it might seem strange that we don’t accept your old specs, but you can be sure there is a method behind the madness…
The costs of recycling spectacles can really spiral – making it an unsustainable policy for both the donating and receiving country. Collecting, cleaning, storing and transporting old spectacles ends up being more expensive than the brand new prescription pairs that are made in local facilities. And being second-hand, old glasses will not last as long as a locally made pair – meaning that the recipient may have to shell out for more.
The right to comfortable, clear vision
Getting a prescription right is a complicated process, which means it’s often very difficult to match a donated pair of glasses to a patient’s exact needs. The second-hand specs will not just match their previous owner’s prescription, they will have been adjusted to fit them, meaning they are often uncomfortable for another user. Old pairs are often scratched or damaged to, which makes them inappropriate for further use.
We also believe in an individual’s right to look and feel good – all over the world people want to feel confident and comfortable wearing their spectacles. People of all ages often reject second-hand spectacles because they are not happy with how they look or feel. We are proud that the local facilities we support allow people a choice of affordable, modern frames.
There is an environmental issue involved with recycling spectacles that makes it very important that we take this stance. All too often large quantities of old spectacles are collected, only to be dumped as unusable stock in developing countries, causing a major environmental problem.
We believe that low cost high quality eye care should be available to everyone and to help achieve this we fund optical workshops and public health eye care facilities in many of the countries where we work. These provide modern spectacles at a low cost to local people, as well as other vital eye health services. We also support the training of a skilled workforce, which can accurately prescribe and fit spectacles. All of this means affordable, high quality modern spectacles are readily available in the countries where we work and, crucially, at a much cheaper cost then a second-hand pair.
Click here to read our position paper in full.