Improper contact lens disposal is contributing to plastic pollution in oceans, one of the biggest problems the environment is facing today. In this blog, Vienna Eyecare Center shares the importance of disposing of used contact lenses properly.
Plastic Pollution in Oceans
Up to 20% of used disposable contact lenses are disposed of through sinks and toilets. Once flushed, some of these contact lenses are caught in sewage filters, while others fragment into tiny shards that get washed away into the ocean. An estimated 269,000 tons of microplastics are already floating around in bodies of water around the world.
The plastic particles that make up contact lenses sink to the bottom of the ocean, where they can be ingested by bottom-feeding fish. The plastic particles then work their way up the food chain until making their way into the fish and seafood market, to be consumed by humans. These microplastics tend to absorb pollutants from the sewage system. In addition to the potential health effects of consuming seafood tainted with microplastics, these materials can also cause a gangrene-like effect on corals.
How to Properly Dispose of Contact Lenses
Thanks to their small size, disposable contact lenses are easier to dispose of than an old pair of eyeglasses. Start by making sure your discarded contact lenses are placed in solid waste bins. Never flush them down the toilet or into the sink. Make sure you are maximizing the prescribed number of uses for multi-use disposable contacts.
Manufacturer Bausch & Lomb has started a contact lens recycling program called ONE by ONE, which recycles contact lenses along with blister packs and other plastic packaging that contact lenses come with. They even recycle packaging from other manufacturers. You can drop off your used contact lenses and packaging at a participating location. Alternatively, you can collect them in a cardboard box, then download and print a shipping label from the Bausch & Lomb website and send it to them for free. All recyclable waste is sent to TerraCycle® for proper recycling.
If you need an eye exam or need contact lenses, Vienna Eyecare Center is happy to help. Give us a call at (703) 938-7633 or fill out our contact form. We serve clients in Fairfax, Reston and Tysons Corner, VA.