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Where And How to Donate Old Eyeglasses in the US

Nick Saraev

Written By:

Nick Saraev

Updated: 03 October 2022 •  

Eyeglasses are something that many of us take for granted. They’re annoying, they go missing at inconvenient times – and why does it feel like our eyes are getting worse every year?
 
But for many people in the world, eyeglasses are a precious commodity. Billions need them, but go without because they can’t afford them or because the necessary prescription is too rare. When it’s time to say goodbye to your next pair of specs, don’t just toss them in the trash – there’s someone out there who can really use them.
 
So, where exactly can you donate your old eyeglasses? Here’s a comprehensive guide to eyewear sustainability in the US.
 

Where can you donate old eyeglasses?

If you’re considering moving to a new prescription, or if your old eyeglasses are just taking up space in your medicine cabinet, donating them is a much better alternative to throwing them away. There are two main options, in that case: donating online or donating in-store. Let’s take a look at each option in more detail.
 

Donating your old eyeglasses online

 
One great way to donate your old eyeglasses is by going online. This has the added benefit of being extremely easy – you can simply package up your glasses and send them right from your home. Most online organizations have stopped accepting donations, but ReSpectacle is still actively looking for gently-worn pairs to be donated.
 
Recognizing the power of the internet for connecting people in need with resources, ReSpectacle accepts donations via mail and then uploads them to a database for people to search for their specific prescription. You can donate your glasses to the address listed on their website here.
 
respectacle glases donation store
 

Donating in-store

 
Fortunately, there are many more options available to you when donating your glasses in-store. Second-hand stores, like Goodwill and the Salvation Army, are always in need of gently-used eyeglasses to resell in their stores. You can also donate directly to local optical clinics or Lions Clubs.
 
Here are a few of the best options and instructions for donating your old eyeglasses in-store:
 

  • GoodwillYou can donate your glasses at any Goodwill location in the United States. Just look for the donation bin near the entrance, and make sure to remove all personal information from the frames before you donate them.
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  • Salvation ArmyThe Salvation Army also welcomes donations of gently-used eyeglasses. You can find your nearest drop-off location here.
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  • Lions Club International (LCI)In the US, there are seven LCI dropoff points specifically set up for old glasses donations. You can also drop them off at any Lions Club office.
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  • Walmart Vision CentersWalmart has partnered with RestoringVision to provide free eyeglasses to people in need all over the world. You can donate your old glasses at any Walmart Vision Center in the US.
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  • RetailersThere are a number of glasses retailers in the US that currently accept donations. These are America’s Best, David Kind, and Lens Crafters. Take your old frames to any of their locations, and they will be recycled into new glasses for people in need.

 

Why donate your old eyeglasses?

For those of us with plenty of money to spend on healthcare and eyewear, it can be easy to take our vision for granted. But for millions of people around the world, buying a new pair of glasses each year is simply not an option.
 
That’s why donating your old eyeglasses is one of the best ways to ensure that people in need have access to proper vision care. By donating your old glasses, you can help someone in need see clearly again and get back to work, school, or everyday life.
 
Plus, it’s easy to do!
 
green eyes wear glasses
 
Just think about all the pain and frustration you’ll be saving the person who receives your old glasses:
 

  • They’ll be able to read without squinting or straining their eyes.
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  • If they are a child, they’ll be able to do better in school.
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  • They won’t have to spend hours every week looking for a cheap pair of glasses that will likely not suit their needs.
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  • Bigger health concerns, like diabetes and hypertension, can be managed with better vision.

 
So next time you’re ready to upgrade to a new pair of glasses, don’t just toss your old ones in the trash. Find a local donation center or retailer and give back to those who need it most.
 

Tips when donating old eyeglasses

Before you donate your old eyeglasses, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
 

  • Ensure cleanlinessAlthough the organization you donate to will likely clean the glasses before redistributing them, it’s always a good idea to clean the glasses first. Use a homemade eyeglass cleaning solution or soap and water mix to clean the lenses and frames, then air dry them.
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  • Remove all personal informationIt’s important to remove any personal information from the eyeglasses before you donate them. This includes your name, address, phone number, and any other identifying information.
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  • Check the condition of the eyeglassesDon’t donate any eyeglasses that are broken or missing pieces. They’ll likely just end up in the trash.

 
Also keep in mind that, because you are donating, there are tax implications to consider also:
 

  • Only donations to qualified charities are eligible for a tax deduction. Check for qualified organizations here before you make your donation.
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  • Determine the fair market value – or the price you’d be willing to pay for your glasses – and document it. You can use this value to claim a deduction on your taxes.
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  • A fair market value of over $250 will require a receipt if you want a successful deduction.

 
Once you’ve considered the points above, congratulations – you’re ready to donate! Someone in need will be very grateful.
 

Is it safe to donate your glasses?

This is a common question, and a valid one. After all, you wouldn’t want to donate a pair of glasses that would end up hurting someone’s eyes. And what about hygiene?
 
Fortunately, it is indeed safe to donate your glasses. They’ll be washed and sanitized before they’re given to someone in need, and most organizations have very strict quality control measures in place.
 
As for hygiene, it’s always a good idea to clean your glasses with a mild alcohol solution before you donate them. This will help keep the glasses clean until they reach the person who needs them.
 
wipe glasses with cloth
 

What if your glasses can’t be donated?

If, for some reason, you are unable to find an organization that will accept your old glasses, you can always recycle them. This is a good option if the glasses are broken or otherwise unusable.
 
To recycle your old eyeglasses, take them to your optician or glasses retailer in case they have their own recycling program. They’ll be more likely to get turned back into new glasses if they’re recycled this way.
 
Otherwise, you can recycle them at a nearby recycling center. Just make sure that the lenses are separated from the frames, as they can be recycled in different ways (plastic is recycled differently to glass).
 
There is also the option of reselling your old glasses on eBay or another online marketplace. You could donate the proceeds to a charity that supports eyeglasses donations. Even better!
 

Wrap up – donating old glasses is a great idea

Sadly, there are not enough people seeking out articles like this to donate their old eyeglasses. It is a shame, really, as there are so many people who need them and could use the help. Research has found that 780 million contact lenses are thrown out each year in the US – so it’s anyone’s guess as to how many pairs of old eyeglasses face the same end.
 
You can change this pattern by being proactive about donating or recycling your old glasses. Resist the temptation to simply buy a new pair and leave the old ones at the bottom of a drawer (it’s tough, we know) and take a few minutes to find a donation center or recycling program near you. You can feel good knowing that you’re helping people in need and doing your part to reduce eyeglass waste.
 
Remember that even if you only donate one pair of glasses every couple of years, it can make a real impact. One person with better vision – and by extension, a better quality of life – is far better than none.

Nick Saraev

Written by:

Nick Saraev

Nick Saraev is a digital nomad with a wealth of experience in e-commerce, marketing, and brand-building.
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