Eye Health Central

11 Things to Do with Old Glasses

Creative ideas for your old pair of glasses

Creative ideas for your old pair of glasses

Whether you've just had a recent prescription change or have simply grown tired of your current look, you may find yourself with a pair of old glasses that you no longer need or want as they are. Before you toss them in the trash, consider these eleven creative and environmentally friendly options.

1. Donate to Charity

Organizations like Lions Club run programs collecting used eyeglasses for individuals in developing countries who may not have access to eye care. They clean, sort, and distribute the glasses to those who need them most. Other companies such as Peep Donations, MYgroup and Recycling also accept donations of used eyeglasses. Donating your old glasses is a small gesture that can make a world of difference. Consider searching for a nearby drop-off location or mailing them directly to the organization.

2. Create Art

Your old glasses can be used for a wide range of art projects as a unique addition. The lenses can be used for a creative take on a sun catcher or a magnifying glass in a sculpture perhaps. Glasses frames can even become quirky jewelry. If you're feeling adventurous, try taking apart multiple pairs of old glasses if you have them and creating a piece entirely out of eyewear components.

3. Use as a Teaching Tool

For parents and educators, old glasses can be a valuable teaching tool used to explain the science of vision and optics to children. They can be used to showcase how different prescriptions affect sight or how glasses correct vision. A hands-on learning experience like this can be far more effective and engaging than simply reading about it.

4. Halloween Prop

Glasses can make or break a Halloween costume. They can transform you into a famous character or help complete a particular look you want to go for like Harry Potter. Keep them handy as a potential part of your costume collection. If you're involved in local theater or school plays, donating them to the prop department would be a great thing to do.

halloween prop for old glasses

5. Plant Climbing Frame

In a small garden, your old glasses can become a unique and stylish plant climbing frame. This is only really possible for small lightweight plants. Remove the lenses and let the vines wind around your frames. Not only will this support your plants' growth, it looks really cool and makes your garden a bit quirkier.

6. Donate to an Optometry School

Some optometry schools accept donations of old glasses for their students to use. These glasses are used in training, allowing the students to practice repairs, and adjustments, and to understand as a whole the nature of prescriptions vs real eyewear. It's an excellent way for you to make a small contribution to the education of future optometrists.

7. Upcycle Into Picture Frames

This one is for the real crafty DIYers looking for a new project. You could try turning your glasses into mini picture frames. Remove your lenses and insert small photos or artwork where the lenses used to be. Attach a string, chain or ribbon and voila, you have a personalised ornament or a small hanging frame.

8. Give to Friends or Family

If you know someone with the same prescription as yourself (quite rare but it does happen) why not offer them your old glasses? They could be used as a spare pair, or the frames can be fitted with new lenses. This is a very good option if your glasses are designer frames.

9. Sell Online

If you have designer or vintage glasses, there is a market for them online. Platforms like eBay or Depop allow you to reach a massive audience of people who could potentially become a buyer. Just make sure you are completely honest and transparent about the condition and the prescription of your lenses.

10. Recycle

Some eyewear retailers offer recycling programs, where old glasses are broken down and the materials are reused. This can be a good option if your glasses are broken or if none of the other options above fit what you’re looking for.

11. Install New Lenses

Finally, if you're fond of your old frames, you don't have to part ways with them. Simply have new lenses with your updated prescription installed in the old frames. It can actually be less expensive than buying a brand new pair of glasses. It's also a great way to keep the frames you have been using for so long while making sure your vision is in tip-top shape.

In summary, there's a whole world of possibilities when it comes to repurposing your old glasses. Whether you choose to donate, create art, teach, dress-up, garden, contribute to education, craft, gift, sell, recycle or re-lens, your old glasses can continue to serve a purpose long after they've served you. 

Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 4 Jul 2023, Last modified: 15 Feb 2024