Improper disposal of single-use plastic items such as water bottles, coffee stirrers and plastic straws has had an adverse effect on the environment. While we are making strides to curb this problem through recycling efforts and use of alternative materials like bamboo straws, there’s another mindless habit that we have to break. This involves flushing down used contact lenses down the toilet.
Dr. Joel H. McGahen, OD, the area’s trusted eye doctor, discusses why it is a bad idea and something that should be stopped.
Contact Lenses and Microplastics
According to the Contact Lens and Cornea Section (CLCS) of the American Optometric Association (AOA), about 45 million people in the United States wear contact lenses. However, about 15 to 20 percent of them flush lenses down the sink or toilet. This results in an estimated 6 to 10 metric tons of plastic lenses ending up in the nation’s wastewater every year.
Microplastics become apparent after wastewater treatment processes break down disposed contact lenses. Once released back into the water cycle, these tiny particles pose a risk to marine life and, later on, affect the entire food supply.
The Importance of Proper Disposal
Although contact lenses make up a tiny fraction of plastic waste, it is essential for wearers to be mindful of how they should be disposed of. To begin with, they must be disposed of in solid waste bins. Switching to once-a-month lenses to reduce waste.
When throwing them away, be sure that the foil on the top is removed, and that the plastic is clean. Also, consider recycling the boxes and cleaning solution bottles. Lens cases, while they must be replaced regularly, can be repurposed in many creative ways.
Dr. Joel H. McGahen, OD is your trusted low vision specialist for your needs. With over 30 years of experience providing patients with vision solutions, quality eyewear and eye care, our staff is dedicated to offering quality services and educating people on the importance of taking care of their eyes. Start today by calling (717) 609-4443 or fill out our contact form to make an appointment. Our Pennsylvania service areas include Shippensburg and Greencastle, PA.