Most contact lens wearers wear disposable soft contact lenses. Disposable contact lenses are usually replaced every day, every 2 weeks, or every month. The contact lenses are made from plastic. They are packaged in a plastic container with a foil top. Each contact lens wearer could go through up to 365 contact lenses per year. This produces a lot of recyclable waste.
A recent study has indicated that there are large amounts of soft contact lenses that end up in wastewater treatment plants. This means that they are being washed down the drain or flushed in toilets. Soft contact lenses do not easily biodegrade in a short amount of time, and are transported from wastewater treatment plants to landfills at an estimated 44,000 pounds per year in the U.S. This does not account for the mass of packaging from soft contact lenses that is disposed of every year.
Due to the small size of contact lenses and their packaging, regular recycling programs do not tend to work. These small items are often sorted out and sent to a landfill at recycling centers. There is currently research being done by contact manufacturers to come up with biodegradable contacts and packaging.
The free One by One program sponsored by Bausch and Lomb in partnership with TerraCycle (a recycling company) is a great way to recycle your contacts and contact lens packaging. It is free to sign up online and easy to do. Please do not wash contacts down sinks or flush them. Let’s be good stewards of our environment and keep the plastic from these great vision devices out of landfills.
Dr. James Ivanoski practices with Dr. Martha Jay at Madison Medical Eye Care (formally know as Lakeshore Eye Care Professionals). He specializes in comprehensive eye care for the whole family and accepts most insurance plans.
For more eye care information on such topics as LASIK vision correction, small incision cataract surgery, contact lens care, macular degeneration, dry eyes, glaucoma and more, call 262-241-1919 or visit www.MadisonMedicalEyeCare.com.