According to the Center for Disease Control, about fourteen million Americans above the age of twelve are visually impaired. Of these fourteen million people, more than eleven million could improve their vision with some form of refractive correction, including the use of eyeglasses. For disadvantaged individuals, a pair of eyeglasses could be life changing.
In effort to help those in need see better, University Facilities and Services holds a recycling program to collect eyeglasses twice per year. Prescription and non-prescription eyeglasses, reading glasses, sunglasses, and frames are accepted. So far, three collections have been completed. In the first collection, 338 pairs of glasses and in the second collection, 322 pairs were donated.
The most recent collection was held through the month of August, in conjunction with National Eye Exam Month. In total, 581 pairs were donated, making this the most successful eyeglass collection yet! The Clinical Microbiology Department alone collected 41 pairs. An unknown department at the University decorated boxes where eyeglasses could be dropped off (see picture left). This department collected 21 pairs. The program is even spreading to the local community. WXXI Radio reached out to join this collection and contributed 58 pairs of glasses. Hopefully, the eyeglass collection here at the University of Rochester will encourage organizations in the local community to start their own eyeglass collections.
Once the glasses are collected, they are sent to the Lion’s Eye Bank at Rochester (formerly the Rochester/Finger Lakes Eye and Tissue Bank) where they sent to The Lions Club International to be cleaned, sorted, and packaged. The majority of the donated eyeglasses are distributed to people in need, in developing countries. The Lions Club International is a leading organization in collecting, recycling, and donating glasses in their efforts to improve sight and prevent blindness among those in need. The Lions Recycle for Sight program has collected thousands of pairs of used eyeglasses, sunglasses, new frames and other equipment.
We would like to thank Karen Guarino from The Lion’s Club Eye Bank, Ruth Finny from WXXI Radio, Joanne from the Clinical Microbiology Department, and everyone who made this program possible.
If you are looking to donate, the Flaum Eye Institute at the University of Rochester Medical Center also has a year-round collection site at their Optical Shop. Or, contact your local Lions Club Organization for more information.
Written by Alyssa Lemire, Class of 2017