How Contact Lenses are Harming the Environment

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contact on finger
by Dougherty Laser Vision

If you’re one of the 45 million Americans who wear contact lenses – you may be contributing to environmental pollution. According to the American Chemical Society’s most recent study, as much as 20% of all contact lenses worn in the United States are disposed of improperly down our drains.

Billions of contact lenses or 48,000 lbs are flushed or washed down our drains every year. Making contact lenses a considerable contributor to plastic pollution that makes its way into our food, drinking water, and eventually our bodies. Plastic particles have been linked to birth defects and diseases like cancer as well as the destruction of thousands of marine animals and ecosystems.

Contact Lens Pollution: A Growing Ecological Problem

There has been much research into single-use plastics i.e. plastic bags, straws, and packaging but little has been performed on contact lenses and how they may be contributing to pollution.

In the United States, wastewater treatment facilities send water through holding tanks that house a variety of microorganisms that feed on and break down organic and solid materials during the water treatment process. Studies are showing that contact lenses going through this process are only degraded slightly before exiting treatment facilities, almost completely intact.

Being the tiny difficult to trap pieces of plastic that they are and not easily biodegraded, they make their way in and back out of our water treatment facilities. Eventually, they end up in our lakes, oceans, and soil; polluting our natural world.

The Environmental Impact of Daily Contact Lenses

Whether by land or sea, when microplastics exist in the environment they are consumed by fish, birds, and other animals where they make their (microplastics) way into the food chain and eventually into the bodies of people. Along the way, they can absorb various harmful chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides.

In light of new studies, companies and individuals alike are taking action to reduce the use of throw-away plastics.

Is LASIK Better for the Planet than Contact Lenses?

Replacing disposable contact lenses and glasses for that matter with a long-term solution like a LASIK or SMILE procedure could have a considerable long-term impact on single-use plastic pollution worldwide. Consider the numbers one more time, 45 million Americans wear contact lenses, many of which are single use. That’s a whole lot of plastic down the drain, in one year, in the United States alone.

Protecting the environment isn’t the only Green you’ll be saving. Depending on your prescription, variety of lens, and insurance, you could be saving anywhere from $200 to $1,200 annually! With a LASIK treatment, you can pay once and have clear vision for the long-haul.

If you’re considering kicking your contacts or glasses to the curb and want to learn more about how a LASIK or SMILE procedure can improve your vision and life, please call or contact online the vision experts at Dougherty Laser Vision today! Together we can discuss treatment options and your desired visual outcome.