Improper disposal of contact lenses is contributing to one of the biggest problems the ocean is facing today: plastic pollution. In this blog, your local optometrist Eyes on Norbeck discusses why it is important to dispose of contact lenses properly.
According to several studies, up to 20% of contact lens wearers dispose of their disposable contact lenses through sinks and toilets. Some of the flushed contact lenses are caught in sewage filters, but a significant amount can fragment into tiny shards and contribute to plastic pollution. Today, an estimated 269,000 tons of microplastics are already floating around in the world’s bodies of water.
The particles of plastic that make up contact lenses don’t float, but rather sink at the bottom of the ocean. These particles are ingested by bottom-feeding fish, which then works its way up the food chain until it reaches your dinner plate. Microplastics also tend to absorb pollutants from the sewage system, which affects corals and produces a gangrene-like effect.
How to Properly Dispose of Contact Lenses
Disposable contact lenses are easier to dispose of than eyeglasses. Proper disposal, however, is key to reducing its impact on the steadily increasing plastic pollution problem. When disposing of your contact lenses, make sure it’s disposed of in solid waste bins, not by flushing them down the toilet or into the sink. Maximize the number of uses prescribed for your multi-use disposable contacts. Fewer contact lenses used over time results in less plastic waste.
Manufacturers such as Bausch & Lomb have started a contact lens recycling program called ONE by ONE. In addition to contact lenses, this program also recycles blister packs and other plastic packaging, including those from other manufacturers. You can opt to drop off your waste contact lenses, blister packs and top foil at a participating optometry, or collect them in a small cardboard box and ship them out later. Bausch & Lomb provides a free shipping label that can be downloaded from their website. All recyclable waste are sent to TerraCycle® for proper recycling.
Eyes on Norbeck is your leading provider of computer vision exam and other contact lens services. Give us a call at (301) 241-0553 or fill out our contact form. We serve customers in Rockville, MD, and surrounding areas.