Lions Emblem Eyeglass Recycling Center
a Lions Club Project Notebook

WHAT: A Community Service Project to recycle used eyeglasses!

WHY: Each year millions of eyeglasses are trashed because the owners need new prescriptions and therefore do not need their old lenses. Many people throughout the world can utilize these old glasses. The Lions have set up centers that will take these old glasses and recycle them for use in third world countries. It is now possible to place these glasses with needy adults here in the US.

HOW: Included below are the minimum requirements for a Eyeglass Recycling Center:


1.    SPACE -  at least a 12? x 12? air conditioned room

2.    VOLUNTEERS (as many as you can get)

3.    LENSOMETERS - approx. cost of $2700

2 lensometers are recommended


a.    Sorting table (4? x 8?) w/sorting bins (plastic milk crates work great)

b.   Wash station, double kitchen sink with warm running water, drying rack  and drying cloths

c.    Lensometer station w/bags

d.   Second sort station w/sorting bins


4.    SHIPPING CONTACT (Lenscrafters or trucking company)


   a.    Sorting table - 4? x 8? table with plastic bins (1 - 6 persons)

          The table is made with a 4? x 8? sheet of plywood divided by two rows of plastic milk crates across the center.  Crates should be marked into categories including but not limited to:  single vision, bifocal, trifocal, readers, frames, children?s glasses, prescription shades, non r/x shades, gold/antique.  Workers can stand on each end of the table.  There should be a trash container on each end of the table.  As boxes of glasses are emptied on the end of the table the first sort takes place.  Each pair of glasses is looked at carefully and assessed for usability.  If they are scratched beyond use they are discarded.  If they are usable, they are sorted into one of the categories across the center of the table.  Broken frames are discarded and loose lenses are also thrown away.  Cases in good condition can be tossed into a box at the side of the table.

b.   Wash station (1 - 3 persons)

          The wash station needs to be at least a double kitchen sink with warm (not hot, it can ruin the plastic frames) running water.  The first sink is filled with warm soapy water, the second sink is filled with warm vinegar water (approx. 2 cups per full sink of water).  Each pair of sorted glasses is washed individually by hand, another usability check can be done at this point, soft toothbrushes are good tools for cleaning the edges of the frames and nose pads.  Sometimes you need WD40 or some other type of adhesive remover also.  After washing the glasses are placed in the rinse water and then onto a drying rack.  As soon as possible after being removed from the rinse water the glasses are individually dried by hand with a soft cloth to provide a clear surface for the lensometer to read through.  Cloth baby diapers or cotton dish towels work great.  One person can operate this station on their own but it works much faster with at least two persons, a third person can be added to sort the glasses before washing and to dry after rinsing.  Glasses are placed into crates and moved to the lensometer station for reading.


c.    Lensometer (1 - 3 persons per lensometer) 2 lensometers recommended

          The lensometer is the heart of the recycling program.  If we do not know the prescription of the glasses, what good are they to us, how can we use them?  Each pair of glasses must be read on the lensometer to determine their prescription.  This is a brief description of the use of a lensometer; more detailed instructions will be given on placement of an instrument.  The first step is to notice if you are working with a single vision of bifocal pair of lenses.  If you think they are single vision do a double check by glancing through the lenses at something with straight lines across it to determine if you have a pair of progressive (no line) bifocals.  The lines will curve at the bottom of the lenses if they are bifocal.  The right lens is read first and the prescription recorded at the top of a special zip-lock plastic bag.  If the lenses are bifocals the ?add? is read and recorded on the bottom left side of the writing space on the bag.  The left lenses is then read and recorded below the right lens, it is not necessary to read the bifocal add on the left lens.  If the machine you are using measures the Pupilary Distance (PD) of the glasses it is recorded on the bottom right side of the bag with a circle around it. See illustration 1.  One person can operate a lensometer on their own but the addition of one or two partners recording the prescriptions on alternate pairs of glasses can speed up the process.  A good three person team can process approximately 80 pairs of glasses per hour. 

d.   Second sort table

          The second sort is used to divide the bagged glasses into the correct categories.  If you are re-stocking a system of glasses for use by a screening program the sort will be very specific by the prescription of the right eye to fulfill their needs.