Is Laser Eye Surgery a More Eco-Friendly Approach to Vision Correction?

There is no doubt that Laser Eye Surgery has become increasingly popular in recent years, thanks to increased accessibility and advancements in technology making more people suitable for treatment. But there is one factor that may be becoming more prominent in people’s minds: the environmental impact of other visual aids.

Most of us are becoming ever-more conscious of our carbon footprint and our wider impact on the environment. We may sort our recycling every week, opt for an electric car, or even embrace veganism, but the simple truth is there is always more that can be done.

If you are one of the millions of people in the UK who rely on disposable contact lenses, you may well have thought about the eco credentials of these tiny plastic discs and perhaps wondered if there is a better solution. We’re taking a look at the real environmental impact of contact lenses and glasses and wondering: Could Laser Eye Surgery be a more eco-friendly approach to vision correction?

The True Impact of Contact Lenses

When the first iterations of the modern contact lens were created in the late 1800s, people were hardly concerned with their environmental impact. We’re talking about a time after the Industrial Revolution and well into the Technological Revolution when convenience and innovation were King.

Contact lenses were among many inventions of this time that championed these values. For the first time in human history, we had more options than glasses or simply dealing with poor vision. Of course, it wasn’t until the late 1960s/early 1970s that the first commercial soft contact lenses began to hit the market and, understandably, they were quick to catch on.

Today, it is estimated that around 140 million people wear contact lenses. This obviously equates to a vast number of contact lenses over the years, but is this really enough to have a negative impact on the planet?

According to a study by Optical Express, over 750 million plastic lenses are flushed down the drain or end up in landfill every year. This is largely due to the fact that most wearers simply don’t realise that their plastic contact lenses can be recycled. Still, the vast majority of contact lenses are thought to end up in landfill or in the ocean where they can take up to 500 years to decompose.

Optical Express’s survey highlighted a clear issue that is prevalent in the UK as well as many other countries around the world: most people are unaware of the environmental impact of contact lenses. In total, 97% of the approximately 3,000 respondents revealed that they were inadvertently disposing of their lenses in a way that could be harmful to the environment.

The findings prompted a response from ‘Say No to Plastic’ campaigner and former broadcaster, Heather Suttie:

“As we all become more environmentally aware and understand the impact on the planet of our decisions and actions, we learn that as consumers, we always have a choice.

With 125 million contact lens users worldwide, this is a global crisis, and it needs action on a massive scale. Billions of used contact lenses and their packaging are causing widespread pollution, and people simply don’t realise the damage.”

Are Glasses Any Better?

So, along with other single-use plastics, contact lenses are clearly a problem for the environment. But are glasses any better? Well, while people aren’t flushing glasses down their toilets (hopefully), a huge number of frames and lenses still end up in landfill every year.

Think about it – if a pair of glasses only last a few years, the average glasses wearer will get through a hell of a lot of pairs in their lifetime – and that’s before we even consider sunglasses! What’s more, glasses frames are usually made out of a specific resin known as CR39 which is difficult to recycle.

Initiatives are now in place to improve awareness of the proper disposal routes for contact lenses and glasses. But perhaps it is a better idea to ditch contact lenses and glasses altogether. After all, opting for Laser Eye Surgery might not only be a better option for the environment but for your pocket, too.

If you’re thinking of ditching contact lenses for good and would like to learn more about Laser Eye Surgery, why not get in touch with one of our friendly clinic coordinators? Alternatively, Book a Consultation today to start your journey to lens-free vision.