Environmental Costs of Eye Care Solutions

18 October 2019

Some of the most common eye conditions are short-sightedness, which causes distance objects to appear blurry, and long-sightedness, when you have problems focusing on close objects. They both affect roughly 1 in 3 people in the UK.

To help their vision, a large majority of individuals choose to wear contact lenses. Often preferred over glasses, contact lenses offer users greater freedom with sports, they’re a comfortable and lightweight application and are practically invisible on the eye. They allow individuals to do the things they love, such as sport or driving, without the need for glasses.

In 2016, the financial size of the contact lens market in the UK was up to £780 million and there’s now approximately 3.7 million contact lens wearers. Staggeringly, this number is only set to rise. But, at what cost to our planet?

Why Are They Harmful?

Most users opt for daily disposable lenses or frequent replacement lenses, so the amount of wastage is rocketing. With no clear way to dispose of these lenses, some (20%) are turning to flushing theirs down the toilet, and others choose to throw them in the bin.

Such wastage is proving detrimental to the environment. Research suggests that the discarded lenses are contributing to microplastic pollution in our waters. As a natural habitat to wildlife as well as a factor to the health of our planet, changing our consumption of lenses should not be overlooked.

What can we do to change this?

In January this year, the government released a new scheme to help combat this issue: a recycling scheme for contact lenses. Users can now get their waste items collected or drop them off at a dedicated recycle store, such as a Boots Opticians. It tackles the need to reduce plastic waste filling up landfills and oceans with a sensible solution. Or is the reality tunnel vision?

Recycling isn’t a new topic. Yet, for 7 in 10 Britons, the idea about what and how to recycle is confusing. So, whether the new recycling alternative will become an engrained method is still yet to be seen.

Damages to the environment continue to persist, including heightened seasonal temperatures and rising sea levels. Taking a stand to make a positive change, where we can, will make the difference. There are alternative methods to avoid harming the environment with contact lenses, such as laser eye surgery. Find out whether changing your eye care could be the right option for you here.


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