Simple Saturday ~ Give the gift of sight by donating eyeglasses

I received and email from Ideealistin recently bring a subject to mind that has been mentioned in passing here at 365 Less Things one or twice before. Ideealistin thought it was worth bring to the fore in the form of its own blog post and that is what we are doing today.

Here is some of what she had to say…

Hi Colleen, as I am sort of moving at the moment (since almost everything in the apartment has to be moved around, I came to the conclusion to consider it something similar to moving at least …), I am digging through everything and found a pair of glasses. Yep, yet another one. In the process of decluttering I think I discovered at least 6 pairs of glasses, tucked into various boxes. (bad sight since primary school …) I donated them all and will donate the ones I just found, too. (It’s very easy here, a big optometrist chain takes them) And I wondered if you might like to address the whole subject of donating old glasses in a post one day….

… Just imagining I had to live without my glasses makes me sad for the people who DO have to live without glasses because they can’t afford them. From a certain degree of defective vision one practically is disabled without glasses … Helping is the one (and important) point. But from the decluttering perspective I think glasses often slip through because it actually is smart to keep one old pair as a spare pair, but not all pairs that accumulate in the average spectacle wearer’s life.

Just a suggestion, but I think even the chance of some kid somewhere learning to read better because it can actually see what is written on the blackboard or somebody not falling because he can see where he is walking is worth that we privileged spectacle wearers rifle through our drawers and donate what doesn’t serve us anymore.

* * *

As a fellow Australian to a very special man by the name of Fred Hollows it would be remiss of me not to bring to the attention of my fellow declutterers that your old unused glasses could be life changing  for someone else. Please take a look at the work of The Fred Hollows Foundation does to restore sight to folks less fortunate than yourselves.

Not only does eye surgery help to restore the sight of those inflicted with unfortunate eye problems but there are also those whose sight would be easily improved simply with a pair of glasses. Glasses that they can’t afford to buy. Glasses that you might have going to waste in a drawer somewhere in your home. Even cheap reading glasses are useful.

All you have to do to improve the sight of a fellow human being is to donate your eyeglass clutter to an organisation that distributes them to those in need.

How to donate

If none of these sites work for you just google ~ donate eyeglasses ~ and I am sure something useful will appear. Also ask you optometrist if they take donations or know who does locally.

Today’s Mini Mission

Take a quick look in your dining space and find something to declutter. It’s that simple. Don’t fuss don’t hesitate just find that one thing and get it our of there.

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Our church denomination is big into Medical missions–we have several hospitals and numerous clinics around the world. We also have many people who use their vacation to go to another country to build buildings, so medical clinics and such. One of the things they always take with them is as many pairs of glasses as they can get. they always come back with stories about the people who can finally see more than a blur. This post is great and I hope we all remember to send our spare glasses to be used.

  2. Don’t forget that at least in the US you can also donate hearing aids through the Lion’s Club and other organizations. When my Dad passed away I donated his glasses of course but also his current and old hearing aids and unused batteries. They refurbish them and provide the gift of hearing to those who wouldn’t be able to afford them otherwise.

  3. Just got our new glasses a few months ago and we donated our old ones straight away. I’ve been donating my glasses and script sunnies since I started wearing them. It’s amazing how many people do this and I have heard of the hearing centre here in WA collects hearing aids of all types for refurbishment and re-use. I thinks it’s a very worthy cause. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. Very timely post. Just this week my husband fnally felt able to let go of four old pairs which I dropped into our local collection box just yesterday. Took me 2 years of patient, no presure, suggesting every 6 months or so and he finally got there and cheerfully let them go in the end. I always reminded him that somewhere in the 3rd world, someone needed these, it wasn’t just about getting unused items out of our house.
    I am so proud of his progress in letting go.

  5. An excellent reminder. I’ve been wearing glasses for 30+ years now and the old ones do pile up in drawers if you let them. Here in the UK there are charity boxes to drop off your old pairs in virtually every opticians shop so it’s the work of moments to donate. Lens-grinding is a sophisticated art and we shouldn’t waste lenses which could help those less fortunate. With my degree of myopia (halfway to legally blind) I find it hard to imagine how I’d manage to even walk safely around without specs, never mind work, read and live. Nowadays, I only keep one pair as spares in case of emergency and the older ones are donated. New glasses in = old glasses out.

    There are many other items which tend to languish in homes, sheds and garages which can be refurbished and serve a new owner in another country via charity, so look out for charities re-conditioning old bicycles, hand tools for both agriculture and wood/ metal working etc. A lovely but unused Singer hand sewing machine which was once mine is Somewhere in Africa right now and helping to make someone’s life easier, which is better than it being wasted in my home.

    • Good reminder of other items GreyQueen that coul be of such use abroad and enable people to have the dignity of independence.
      My mum of 84 is delighted to have just donated her wedding present gift of 60 yrs ago of a hand operated Singer sewing machine to a charity that will be sending it to Africa/India.

  6. I put in glasses cases as well and am about to add some of the multitudes of lens cleaning cloths that we seem to amass. I drop mine at the optical department in Wal-Mart.

  7. You can donate both prescription and nonprescription glasses and sunglasses. I just drop ours off at our local LenCrafters store.

  8. Regular sunglasses are important to donate too. Anyone with albinism is very dependent on sunglasses. People with albinism in Africa are in particular need. You can donate sunglasses to Under The Same Sun, an organization that provides needed sun protection items to African children with albinism, and promotes education to keep these individuals safe.

  9. In NZ contact the Lions Club via the website

  10. I wish I lived where you live. I’ve tried to get rid of old glasses (we are a 2 persons with glasses household) in a resposible way, but it seems almost impossible. I’ve tried the internet and it came up with a few adresses. but as they were really far from our home i phoned first but the people at the other end had really no idea what i was talking about. And a big opticians chain is supposed to take them. But I dropped of a few and the woman was so disgusted (i cleaned them!) at the though of reusing something she threw them in the bin there and then! So now I’m still stuck with over 10 pairs of glasses. :/

  11. Hi Colleen,
    thanks for taking up the subject. It also makes me really glad to hear that so many people actually already donate glasses! And I love the conversation. I would have never thought of hearing aids or old sewing machines – mainly of course because none of that had been in my life/became clutter around me. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good thing to know and remember in the future.

  12. Yes, it’s important to pass them on. We save one extra pair to use in an emergency like broken frames, etc. and pass on the older pair via our eye doctor. Such a little thing but it helps someone else so much!

  13. Hi everyone,

    This blog is so much more than simply wanting to declutter, isn’t it??!!! So many people in this world are so much worse off than us, in so many ways…small ways which we often take for granted in our own day to day living.

    A couple of years ago, we went to Vanuatu for a holiday and we took the opportunity to take practically all the left over exercise books, pencils, etc from our kids school days. Honestly, when we turned up at a little out of the way school, you would swear we were giving them the world. They were so appreciative that they insisted we meet the principal!!! …all that time, the day tour bus (and other passengers) was waiting outside the school, probably 30 minutes or more!!!

    Aside from that, I’ve realised today that I’ve been saving my dad’s reading glasses as a memento of him. He died in 1989. It’s time to let go. It really never occurred to me that they could be doing good things for someone else!! Amazing how my little brain works (or not) sometimes….I love the idea of letting go of ‘stuff” for the better good of others. It’s an easy decision. 🙂

    • this post is fantastic, Sue D. you describe exactly the change of mind that comes along with reading this blog. there are eye-openers in every single posts and comments. Everyday. I love it too.

      Not only did I switch to value my excess stuff more, because it might be clutter to me, but it might have meaning for someone else. I also changed the other way round. I consider it more sustainable, eco friendly, and logical money wise, to buy second hand now, not check out freecycle and local. I recently bought two perfectly fitting, almost new pair of jeans on the fleamarket for a third of the original price.

    • What at lovely comment Sue D. Thank you. You are so right letting go of stuff is easy when you know how much it could be helping someone else. The thrift store I work at raises money to supply phone counselling for people in mental crisis. The things I donate could actually save someone from ending their own life one day. That makes me feel pretty godd that’s for sure.

  14. Hi ladies have just had a suggestion from someone associated with Civil Defence. Keep your last pair in your Emergency Kit, so if there is some disaster and you have to get away you will have something. Also if your current pair is damaged during the disaster, you have something to tide you over.

  15. Thank you for this timely reminder. I have a couple of pairs of glasses kicking around that I’ve been meaning to take back to the opticians for ages and I’m going that way today. Your link shows me that it’s actually the opticians I’m using currently that are part of this scheme. The opticians I used to use used to collect them, but they have changed hands and are not on the list, so perhaps they no longer participate.

    Goodness, Moni, what sort of disaster are you envisaging? Where do you live that such a thing comes to mind so readily? I think it’s always sensible to keep your last pair of glasses, though, in case you break or lose your new pair. It might be better to take them to the beach or swimming pool rather than your new pair, especially if you need to keep your glasses on while you swim.

    • Hi Karin, first off the suggestion came from my dad who is a retired Civil Defence Officer, so that’s his angle. He coordinated a number of major evacuations and he says everyone forgets about glasses, tampons and cash when making their emergeny kits! (banks and atms and eft pos terminals don’t work when power is off)

      Secondly, I live on the East Coast of New Zealand, so tsunami risk is constantly monitored from seismic events as far away as Japan and Southern America. All of NZ is on fault lines, so earthquakes are a possibility/probability and I live about 40 mins from an active volcano. About 7 years ago my city had major flooding and landslides due to what was called a 100 year storm ie a week of torrential rain. Apart from that it is a really beautiful country and I feel very safe, but at least once or twice a week there is an advert on TV reminding people to prepare for emergencies and plan to get thru.

      AND today the UN released the top 10 happiest countries in the world (factoring in everything) and NZ got 2nd. Yay us! Apparently seismic activity doesn’t get us down.

  16. I’m so glad we didn’t decide to move to New Zealand when hubby was offered a job there, I think it would take me time to be able to relax about the thought of a tsunami or earthquake being a real possibility. That does explain why you are so concerned about disasters, though.

    The rain here in England is bad, but I think I’m fairly safe on my hill, and we don’t usually get much flooding down in the town. So far the ark in the garden hasn’t floated away with the chickens, either.

    • Hi Karin – LOL – we have a very digilent Civil Defence system who have a very good track record of warning and responding very quickly.

      Tsunami’s that have hit NZ to date: nil. Earthquakes I have personally experienced: one 25 years ago and it was a jolt. White Island has been smoking away for my whole life, and am told as long as it keeps smoking that is a good thing. Houses are built to earthquake specs since 1931.

      On the other hand…..we do not have snakes here, nor poisonous spiders. In fact the average NZ’er would prefer an earthquake to seeing a snake. We can’t understand how someone could live in an area where there is the possibility of snakes.

      And we have absolutely no nuclear devices. Not one. Nor are any allowed into our waters.

      We do have a fair bit of rain, but the summers are very warm/hot depending on opinion, and winters vary depending on area. Very clean green country, the natural scenery is majestic and very deverse. Not overcrowded and reasonable standard of living.

      • Moni, I have always wanted to visit New Zealand. Everything I have ever read has made it interesting to me. I like everything you had to say about your country. You are blessed.

      • Snakes aren’t a problem here, either. The lack of nuclear devices could be a plus, but while I’m sure New Zealand is a lovely place to visit, it is too far from my family for me to want to live there and I wouldn’t like the heat, either.