Grey Mist Lifting

A Weekly Blog About Lives Changed Through Eye Care

Brian Foster, Executive Director

Thanks – but no thanks – for used eyeglasses


An Indian man wearing a pair of used eyeglasses. Most likely, this prescription was fitted to the closest match in only one eye. The small vision improvement he gets from wearing them simply isn’t up to our high standards. Won’t you help someone like him get a new pair of eyeglasses?

An Indian man wearing a pair of used eyeglasses. Most likely, this prescription was fitted to the closest match in only one eye. The small vision improvement he gets from wearing them simply isn’t up to our high standards. Won’t you help someone like him get a new pair of eyeglasses?

We Canadians are a generous bunch. We want to help. And given the expense of prescription eyeglasses and how necessary they are for many of us to see, it’s natural that if we have an old pair, we want to donate them to be passed on to someone in need.

But Operation Eyesight no longer collects eyeglasses, and hasn’t since 2003.

That doesn’t stop people from mailing them to us, showing up with boxes full of them, or leaving a bag of them on our doorstep. It’s actually not helpful; we’re forced to throw away all the old pairs that we receive.

Here’s why. In order to be useful, a pair of eyeglasses needs to be fitted via a professional eye exam. To make use of an existing pair, we’d need to find someone with that exact prescription. Anything else requires a person to accept eyeglasses that don’t help them.

And it’s very time-consuming and difficult to match a person’s prescription to an existing pair of eyeglasses. Their vision might even be harmed if they are wearing eyeglasses that are not a perfect match for their prescription.

Providing eyeglasses to those in need is still vital to our approach. Here’s how we do it. Every Indian and African hospital we work with ensures that each patient who needs glasses gets comfortable, modern, NEW prescription glasses.

Those who can’t afford the cost (the equivalent of $2 to $4 in most locations) have those costs subsidized by local customers who can afford to pay for more expensive frames.

Some people may think “Used eyeglasses are still useful! Why don’t you try and use them?” In addition to the difficulty of matching used eyeglasses, there are also compelling economic reasons. It’s actually less expensive for us to buy locally-made eyeglasses for distribution in the countries where we work, than to collect, sort and ship used eyeglasses overseas. In fact, India no longer allows used eyeglasses into the country, as they interfere with their own eyeglasses industry.

So please, don’t leave your used eyeglasses at our door. We appreciate your generosity, but we can’t use them. And if you’d like to help in another way, please consider clicking here to donate $20, which can provide new, custom-fitted prescription eyeglasses for up to three people in Africa or India. Imagine their happiness at being able to see clearly!

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